Eight panelists informed stage parents of the dangers of promoting child actors on the Internet at "A Brave New World? Protecting Young Performers in Cyberspace," an event presented by BizParentz, Screen Actors Guild Foundation, and Actors' Fund event, on Oct. 25 at the Screen Actors Guild. Topics discussed included recent incidents of child erotica being sold on eBay, legal tools for protecting young performers, legislation in development to protect child actors, and the importance of parents' and children's intuition.
"Don't let a potential career decision override your intuition," said Paula Dorn of BizParentz, a non-profit group that supports parents and children in the industry. "There are bad people around our kids."
The event was organized by the founders of BizParentz, Anne Henry and Dorn, who after finding a number of images of shirtless young boys on eBay, decided parents needed to learn more about their rights. At the event, they said that many parents don't realize that pedophilia, which is considered a sexual orientation, isn't illegal and that the LAPD cannot prosecute someone for making comments online about attractions toward children. Parents can, however, use other California laws to their advantage.
Duncan W. Crabtree-Ireland, Deputy General Counsel at SAG, said parents can use the "Right of Publicity" statute under California law to control the commercial use of their children's images. They can also search www.meganslaw.ca.gov to perform background checks on individuals interested in working with their children to determine whether they have a history of sexually predatory behavior.
Democratic Assemblymember Cindy Monta単ez also said lawmakers are currently drafting legislation that would require talent managers to undergo mandatory background checks. "When one child becomes a victim, all children become victims," Monta単ez said.
Other resources provided at the event included information and names of convicted child molesters who worked in the entertainment industry, statistics on Internet dangers, and websites such as Netsmartz.org that provide useful tips on Internet safety.
"You and your kids are a target-rich audience," said Dave Dalton, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer of 29 years, referring to how frequently parents and children in the entertainment business are targeted by dangerous individuals. "Believe your own instincts. You don't have to have something concrete to put your finger on [to walk away]."