What does it take to protect child entertainers from abuse?
Once again, we see news headlines leaving us with troubling questions about the way that the exploitation of young people has been accepted and overlooked in the film industry. This time, actor Michael Egan is accusing well-known entertainment executives Bryan Singer, Garth Ancier, Gary W. Goddard, and David A. Neuman of forced sex and drug abuse when he was a minor.
Many of us enjoy seeing child entertainers, and many of them love the work they do. But, if their success comes at the cost of abuse by someone in power, the price is too high.
One of Kidpower’s partners, Children in Film, is committed to helping child actors and models have a positive, safe, and healthy experience with the entertainment industry. According Founder and President Toni Casala, “People are innocent until proven guilty, and we don’t want to make judgments about these specific cases. However, I am glad that names are being named, and people are having the courage to speak up. Too often, we hear stories from adults who were abused as child actors who will say, ‘I will tell you what happened but not tell you who did it.’ This is because they are afraid of destroying their careers.”
Toni explains that sometimes people are so blinded by excessive wealth and fame that they trust without question. This is what happened when parents sent their children to Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, without going along, thinking that this would be amazing fun and open doors for their careers. Kids often feel embarrassed and ashamed about the abuse and frequently face emotional trauma that continues into their adult lives – but their family’s income and their own future seems to depend on their silence.
Although the laws protecting kids are getting stronger, the nature of the entertainment industry risks being a predatory environment unless and until everyone – parents, agents, executives, adult actors, directors, and the children themselves – knows how to recognize abuse and insists on taking action if it happens. Only when everyone puts the safety of kids FIRST – ahead of fortune, fame, and power – will we be able to protect child actors and models from abuse and make the entertainment we get from seeing them worth the price.
These resources from Kidpower’s free online Library show how to take action to prevent and stop abuse:
- Four Strategies for Protecting Kids From Sexual Predators
- How Can I Avoid Being Accused of Abuse? – 7 Guidelines from Kidpower
- Protecting Youth Athletes From Sexual Abuse – videos and handouts
Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International is a global nonprofit leader in providing child protection, positive communication, and personal safety skills for all ages and abilities. Since 1989, Kidpower has protected over 2.5 million children, teens, and adults, including those with special needs, from bullying, abuse, harassment, kidnapping, sexual assault, and other violence through workshops, consultation, and educational resources. Kidpower’s Positive Practice™ Teaching Method coaches each person to be successful in using skills to take charge of their emotional and physical safety and well-being.