The entertainment industry should be an arena for a young performer to showcase what they’ve got. But what happens when the world they believe will help them achieve their greatest dreams becomes a dangerous cage? The show business has become a place for heartless predators to take advantage of the innocence of a young actor. As a parent, what can you do? What does it take to protect child actors from abuse?
Protect Child Actors from Industry Predators
The Harvey Weinstein scandal has caused quite the stir in the news and social media. It blew the lid off the side of Hollywood the general public never gets to see. Industry predators like Weinstein are terrifying, especially for young actors and their parents. In fact, a similar report involving Stranger Things actor Finn Wolfhard emerged lately. Wolfhard left his agency, APA, after two men came forward with allegations that talent manager Tyler Grasham sexually assaulted them.
In the aftermath of these scandals, both industry predators suffered a very public fall from grace. But Weinstein and Grasham are just the tips of the iceberg. While the Academy and other acting organizations are looking for ways to prevent these issues from ever happening again, parents of child actors need to do their part as well. Once you expose your child to a business as lucrative as Hollywood, you start subjecting them to multiple risks. So in light of the recent issues, here are ways a parent—or anyone—can take to protect child actors from industry predators.
What a Parent Can Do to Protect Child Actors from Abusers
Develop an open and honest communication with your child
The ability to determine what healthy relationships are like begins at home. To protect child actors from abusers, start by having an open and honest conversation about the issue. Talk about sexual harassment, abuse, and boundaries. If you’re not exactly sure what counts as sexual abuse, then don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Here are definitions you should familiarize yourself with.
Sexual touching between an adult and a child is considered sexual abuse. Sexual touching between children is also sexual abuse when there is an age difference of 3 years or more. But parents need to keep in mind that sexual abuse isn’t just about touching, penetration, or pain.
For the most part, it can be any of the following key points:
- Physical, verbal (sexual talk), or emotional
- Abuse can happen to girls and boys
- Sexual abuse is either committed by an adult or a peer
- Other acts that are considered as sexual abuse include allowing the child to view pornography, sending of sexually suggestive photographs, inappropriate conversations, and indecent proposals
Sexual abuse among children can be tricky and more complicated than people think it is, especially since most industry predators might have frightened the actor to stay quiet. Parents need to remind their children that abuse is always the perpetrators’ fault and never their own. This simple reminder can help a child open up to you or other responsible adults in the event that an abuse actually happens.
Learn the warning signs
Child sexual abuse is often a series of unwanted interactions rather than a single event. When you put an eye out for early warning signs, sexual abuse can be stopped before it gets any worse. Adults should be the ones to protect child actors from sexual abuse, and they could do this by addressing questionable behavior and speaking out about it. The following are some red flags to watch out for.
- An adult is too keen about your child (example: handing out lavish or inappropriate gifts, praising their looks instead of their talents).
- Predators often insist on spending “alone time” with the child actor.
- When you put your foot down, abusers tend to start threatening you or the actor.
- The child actor is unwilling to attend acting classes or callbacks without providing any reasons.
- Your gut intuition is telling you that something isn’t right.
Know where you can report an abuse
Children who can’t think of a trusted adult to talk to or those who are worried about upsetting their parents can call client confidential hotlines like 1-800-4-A-CHILD first. Helplines like this are open 24/7 with trained personnel ready to help. The agency also has a website where children can get help: www.childhelp.org/pages/help-for-kids.
Fortunately, child actors and young performers live in a society where speaking up against abuse is met with overwhelming support. Even The Casting Society of America put up a slogan against harassment with the words “If you see something, say something.” SAG-AFTRA also encourages their members to call a 24-hour hotline at 844) 723-3773 or (323) 549-6644 so they can report abuse or discriminatory behavior.
There are a lot of options out there for abused young performers, like going to someone in charge like their studio teacher, director, stage manager, agent, etc. You may offer to participate in any meetings or when filing the report. Remember, this is a crucial and difficult time for you and your child, so you need to be able to provide emotional support to each other.
The scandal that is plaguing Hollywood today is a result of victim silencing. The more industry giants, performers, and parents speak out against abuse, the sooner the problem will meet its end. Recognizing the problem is the biggest step to making a change. The more information you can provide, the easier it will be for authorities to catch the abusers that have long been hiding behind the blinding lights of the industry. To protect child actors from sexual harassers is to help keep this industry as safe and fun as it should be for these young souls. Do your part.