Viewer complaints lead cops, child protection agency to investigate Supernanny father

After viewers complained about a father’s behavior toward his children on ABC’s Supernanny, both the sheriff and Florida’s Department of Children and Families are investigating the family.

Phil Davis, who lives in Deltona, Fla., appeared on the Feb. 13 episode of the show, along with his wife, Debbra; they have five kids. Phil spanks his kids and hits them with a belt, and calls his daughters “bitch.” Besides that horrific behavior, he’s a sexist asshole, insisting that his wife’s job is to clean the house and get the kids ready, and telling his teenage stepdaughter, “You do what I tell you to and shut your damn mouth about it.”

The first seven minutes of the episode are below, and they include him slapping his little girl in the mouth; later, while watching footage of his behavior, he says, “I ain’t got no excuse for that.”

Florida’s Department of Children and Families “is investigating complaints of child abuse and neglect” and “is trying to make sure the family is receiving counseling, that the behavior seen on the show is not continuing and that the children are safe,” The News-Journal reported. They’re looking into it after the Volusia County Sheriff’s office began investigating, and their investigation started “after viewers called and reported what they saw on the show as child abuse,” the paper says.

“If children are hit in the face, they risk getting injured. This (type of) treatment of children is very inappropriate,” a DCFS spokesperson told the paper. “The producer of the show told us the father is receiving counseling but we are investigating to confirm that,” John Harrell said. “If we have a situation where the children are in danger, they will be removed. Or we will determine whether to refer the family to services such as anger management, parenting classes, to help prevent incidents in the future.”

Here’s the beginning of what the narrator calls “one of the most shocking episodes ever”; the full episode is also online.

‘Supernanny’ family investigated for child abuse [News-Journal]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.