By Daisy Prado
Children all over the United States are still engaging in child labor in the entertainment industry.
Laws protecting working children in the United States have been established and observed since the early 1900s, protecting children from terrible working conditions in factories, mines and other strenuous jobs. However, children are not protected from the terrible working conditions of being a child actor in the entertainment industry.
A Minor Consideration is a non-profit organization running only on donations that aides past, present and future child stars and helps them protect the earnings made during their careers.
Paul Petersen, a former child star on “The Donna Reed Show,” founded AMC in 1991. He said the organization helps about 300,000 youths a year.
“Children in entertainment, agriculture and sports are exempt from federal child labor laws. Add that up, and up to five and a half million children are not protected by the government,” Petersen said.
Financial exploitation is a major problem for child actors, he said.
“Around your 30s, you are no longer bringing in the big check and everyone dismisses you. Particularly professionals dismiss you; agents, producers, journalists and even your parents. Journalists who used to break an ankle to get over to your house to get a story 10 years earlier, don’t even return your phone calls now,” said Petersen.
In 2009, Petersen and celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred filed a lawsuit against Nadya Suleman, also known as “Octomom”, for allegedly “pimping out” her eight newborn babies. They wanted the court to appoint a third-party guardian to make sure that the children’s funds are protected from their mother’s clutches. The guardian would also make sure that the children have futures outside of their mother’s reality TV show.
“She was getting $40,000 per interview online, yet later she filed for bankruptcy,” said Petersen.
Reality shows such us “Kate Plus 8” or “Teen Mom” are said to exploit their children, making them work day and night on the “set.” Those children often never see any of the funds when they are older, Petersen said.
“There are 10 members of the family; 8 children and mom and dad. Mom and dad were paid handsomely. But the kids did not get paid. Eighty percent of the cast didn’t get paid! So where is their banking account? Where is their trust fund? Who is going to take care of these kids once they turn 18 and need to go to college? Because John and Kate, I promise you, spent every dime they made,” said Petersen
Discovery Communications reportedly made $200 million after six years of raising the Gosselin’s kids on reality TV, but no records show that the children will receive any of the profits.
“This means this is not their money; it’s their parents,” said Petersen about reality shows.