Going viral is not always a good thing, especially when the health of a child is involved. One such case: A mom was arrested for this viral video of her baby smoking after social media users alerted police to the content, and helped track her down.
Recently, two videos began circulating on Facebook that showed a 20-year-old mother from North Carolina holding a brown cigar or cigarette to her baby's mouth, according to The Washington Post. Social media users disturbed by the video began leaving comments on the Raleigh Police Department's Facebook page on Wednesday morning, urging police to intervene. Some Facebook users even shared screenshots of the video, as well as a link to the mother's own Facebook account, The Washington Post reported.
A police warrant for her arrest accused the mom, identified as Brianna Ashanti Lofton, of "causing, encouraging, and aiding a 1-year-old child to smoke a marijuana blunt" on Dec. 1 of last year, according to The News & Observer. She was arrested on Wednesday and charged with two counts of felony child abuse and possession of marijuana, according to a Raleigh police news release. Her child has been placed with Wake County Child Protective Services, police officials said.
The Raleigh Police Department wrote on its Facebook page Wednesday, according to The News & Observer:
Big thanks to everyone who posted information about the smoking mother and baby. Thanks to your willingness to get involved, the child is now safe and the mother is in police custody.
Romper reached out to the Raleigh Police Department and the Wake County Detention Center, where Lofton is being held, but did not hear back in time for publication.
In the video, the adult hand is seen holding what looks like a brown cigarillo to the lips of the baby, who coos and then seems to inhale before letting out a puff of smoke, according to The Associated Press. It's unclear from where the video originated, but a social media user shared a version of the 10-second clip, which had received 1.5 million views, and called for the mom's arrest, according to The Associated Press. That video no longer seems to be available online.
Facebook users who viewed the video shared by Martin quickly swarmed the Raleigh Police Department's page. One Facebook user posted to the police department's account Wednesday morning, according to The Washington Post:
Can you make an arrest on the girl that is making her BABY smoke weed? Something needs to be done about that.
The Facebook user, identified as Rasheed Martin, told the AP that he doesn't known Lofton, but was nonetheless disturbed by the video when he saw a friend share it on the social media platform. Martin said, according to the AP,
Once more and more people found out about this situation, they showed me a screen grab of her actual Facebook page. Then I later added it to the post so everyone could know exactly who ... did that to the poor little girl.
When Martin learned that Lofton was arrested, he wrote on his Facebook page, with a screen shot of the Raleigh Police Department's updated post, according to The Washington Post,
I'm glad I could help spread this awareness & get this woman taken down & the baby in good hands. That was may stole purpose for posting it.
In a digital age where everyone documents everything they do, there are bound to be recordings of illegal and harmful acts. While some outrage on social media may not be justified, in other cases, such as this one, it can lead to a necessary intervention.
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