Dustin Cohn, the father of teen social media star Danielle Cohn, has spoken out about his fears for his daughter’s safety — and accused Instagram, YouTube and other companies of being complicit in “child exploitation.”
In a lengthy statement posted on Facebook yesterday morning, Dustin insisted that Danielle’s real age is 13 despite her claims that she is older. And he hit out over social media posts which he said showed her “dancing in lingerie”, and at companies he claimed had used her for profit.
Dustin accused “Instagram, YouTube, fashion nova, buzzfeed, universal, target, Bang Energy Drinks and the State of California” of being “OK” with “child exploitation.”
He said, “They have no issues using my daughter for clicks, a minor, someone who just turned 13. I have contacted Instagram and YouTube and they both ignored me while they made money off exploiting my daughter.”
He added later: “I truly worry about what has happened to Danielle’s money for her future, her safety, and why it took this long to be heard as a father!! I do want Danielle to be happy, but not at this cost. No 13 year old should be dancing in lingerie.”
According to Dustin, he has struggled to handle the problems he perceives about his daughter’s online presence in a diplomatic way. She regularly posts paid-for posts on her Instagram, some of which he evidently views as too risque for someone so young.
He said he tried to have his concerns dealt with away from social media, hoping that the “system” would keep his daughter safe. But, according to Dustin, the “the system has failed me.”
Dustin explained in his post that Danielle is his only child with Danielle’s mom Jennifer and that they were never married. However, he said Danielle and his mom lived with him from the time she was born until she was about 10 years old.
“They were never homeless, and Danielle was allowed stay with me at any time,” Dustin wrote. “Her grandmother Linda lives an hour away from Orlando, so how homeless could they really have been? I would never throw my child out on the streets.”
He explained that he had opposed Danielle being on social media from a very early age. He said he never approved of his daughter appearing in pageants and modeling on social media. When he saw Danielle’s photos online, he says he asked for it to stop because he was concerned about pedophiles.
Dustin claimed that he tried to alert social media platforms about Danielle’s age and warned them about exploiting “a minor for profit.”
He insisted that someone must be held accountable for the situation where an underage child was being allowed so much inappropriate exposure on social media.
“I have gone through multiple outlets and no one cares. I want these companies to be held accountable because they never did their due diligence in checking my daughter’s age, and have used a minor for profit because the money is more important than the truth. The exploitation of children on these sites needs to stop.”
He insisted that he never once gave his approval for Danielle to appear on ads and promotions.
Dustin also claimed that Danielle was pulled out of school and enrolled for online schooling without his knowledge. He alleged he was not allowed to see Danielle’s school records.
Dustin also said Danielle’s managers ignored an agreement that he should be contacted to vet jobs offered to Danielle to ensure they were age-appropriate.
He claimed he contacted the police and child services in California to express his concerns.
He also said he expressed his concern about his 13-year-old daughter dating older boys. He claimed he asked his mother to monitor her dating behavior, but she told him that “it’s Danielle’s decision.”
“I also feel sorry for these young guys who are being lied to and put in a horrible position of dating an underage and ILLEGAL minor,” Dustin wrote. “She is 13 and should not be around 17 year old boys. It is disgusting and unreal.”
Dustin’s mom (Danielle’s grandmother) previously intervened by posting Danielle’s birth certificate online. According to Dustin, Danielle’s mom reacted with hostility and threats.
He also wrote that he had suffered health issues recently, and his mom’s cancer made it difficult to look out for his daughter.
“Danielle used to love being active, cheer-leading, and school, but that’s all gone. There’s more to life than just going places to take cool pictures… I truly hope in the future she gets to truly experience life and have fun and not be caught up in a world of followers, fame, likes, and money. I hope one day she sees that I’ve only ever tried to protect her. I hope others around her wake up and realize it shouldn’t be about the money, but living life as a kid that she is.”
She and ex-boyfriend Mikey Tua recently faced backlash on social media after accusations of pranking fans with a fake pregnancy announcement and wedding in Las Vegas. The pair have since gone through a messy break-up.
After Dustin’s comments, Mikey’s mom Katie also took to Facebook to thank him for speaking up. Katie — who earlier this year revealed she and Mikey’s dad had taken away his social media accounts — wrote, “Our family has been through hell and back the past year. Mikey Tua’s dad, Delvin Tua, and I have stayed quiet for most of this. We’re beyond thankful to Dustin Cohn for speaking up.
“Our son is completely broken from this situation. The lies, manipulation, deceit, and emotional abuse that’s come from his first relationship will affect him for the rest of his life.”
She added that they didn’t blame Danielle as she is a child, adding, “We hope that Dustin’s message allows for Dani to move forward and enjoy childhood a little more.
“We now hope to find peace in all of this and move forward. Mikey is doing so well considering his heart is broken. I know he loves Dani and will always have a special place in his heart for her.”