No discussion of child models would be complete without at least covering the sad fate of JonBenet Ramsey who was brutally murdered in her Colorado home. Her parents were accused of the murder. An American gay man living in Thailand falsely confessed to the murder, He was extradited from Thailand back to the USA, where it was proved he had nothing to do with JonBenet’s murder. The police, finally after many years ruled out the parents of the young girl as suspects. To date, more clues still keep coming to police; however, the murder of the young girl remains unsolved.
OK, we have dealt with the goriest side of the child modeling, regarding that precious, adorable child model of Jon Benet who was murdered. It cannot get worse than that. We still have questions about little child models and the process of making them famous undertaken by child modeling agencies.
Ethical Issues in Child Modeling
There are serious ethical issues that need to be addressed for those parents exploring how to get your child into modeling. There is a lot of trauma in the steps taken with the goal of how to become a child model. The main question parents need to ask themselves is do they really understand what it means for nonude child models and what life changes are experienced by child super models.
Physical nudity of children is prohibited pornography. Nevertheless, the exposure of children in their formative ages to the pressures and glamour of being a “super model,” is like a form of nudity, in that they become targets of serious public attention. Even though, they may not be physically nude, their vulnerable souls are totally exposed as if they are spiritually nude.
Many, especially those who are extremely young, cannot process the attention they receive in a balanced fashion. Their worldview becomes distorted. When they grow older, they may experience the heartbreak of all the attention paid to them as a young child fading away. Both child models and child movie stars can suffer from this particular affliction. Often, this leads to drug and alcohol addiction in the young adults, who were former child stars, with the consequences of the excessive usage of drugs and alcohol being played out in the tabloid press for further public scrutiny.
Parents Living Through Their Kids
One of the consistent problems with child modeling is that parents of the child model are engaging in what psychologists called “projection.” Projection occurs when a person tries to make or help another person achieve goals that this person was not able to achieve themselves. The trouble lies in that the person, especially if it is a child, may not have the same goals.
Child models or child stars often complain about this phenomenon. The Jackson Family is a classic example. The father, Joe Jackson, created a family that became super stars in the musical world. There is absolute certainty that his children were extremely talented in singing and performances. Yet, the drive to make them into super stars, came not from the children themselves, because what child even has the ability to comprehend such things. The drive came from the relentless pressure. Some might call this child abuse that the father placed on his children to make them into super stars.
Are All Experiences of Child Models or Child Actors Negative?
Many experiences are negative, but not all of them. One of the few child actors that grew to be a responsible adult is Ron Howard. Ron became an American favorite as the young boy “Opie” in the Mayberry and Mayberry RFD television series. This was a time when people in the USA were calmer and less open to be afflicted with the problems of drug and alcohol abuse.
As Ron Howard grew older, he changed his position from being in front of the camera to being the director of the films looking through the camera to see the other actors portraying the characters he helped to create.
Ron Howard is one of the very few exceptions of child actors not corrupted, as he grew older. Bless his heart, for making the transition from child actor to movie producer/director and for him keeping his humanity intact during the transition.
Ron can call anyone, even the most famous in Hollywood and they will immediately accept his calls. To be fair, the only way Ron was able to make this transition from child star to become a major producer/director was to partner up with the most vicious Brian Glazer.
At some point, public attention fades. Many psychologists think this is one of the main contributing factors as to why former child models/actors have so many problems as young adults. The media discards them at a certain age because they are no longer “cute.” Nevertheless, the child actor/model still wants to continue the public adoration. When they cannot get this public attention for positive behavior, they attract public attention from negative behavior.
Understand the Consequences
A child model or a child actor when they become extremely popular, no longer is able to experience a “normal” average childhood. They do not go to regular school. Instead, they are tutored on the set. They do not have many friends of their own age. They are so busy working, they have no time to think for themselves or develop normal social skills.
A Few Real Life Examples
- Macaulay Culkin – Famous as child, drug addicted as adult.
- Justin Bieber – Famous as teenager, currently in meltdown.
- Britney Spears – famous as child, more famous as young adult, fell way down and is now on the rebound.
- Michael Jackson – famous as child, more famous as young adult, weird as adult, dead from drug overdose.
- All the child actors everyone forgot about, include: Haley Joel Osmond from “The Sixth Sense,” Henry Thomas from “E.T.,” Arianna Richard and Joseph Manzullo from “Jurassic Park”, Barrette Oliver from “The Never Ending Story”, and many more. Child models are even more disposable than child actors are.
Some child models are really successful, but there are more young people used and discarded than those who continue success from childhood to adulthood.
How to Get Your Child Into Modeling
After all this discussion of the most negative aspects of child models/actors, and after all these disclaimers about the process; if parents still want to continue to make their child into a model or an actor, here are the steps:
- Nurture the Talent – If a child is gifted with exceptional talent, then provide the resources necessary to help the talent flourish. A good test to see if the child has real talent is to have the child participate in a public performance and let the audience decide.
- Create Opportunities for Exposure – Beauty contests, talent contests, and even something, as being a model at the opening of the new local shopping mall are all opportunities for exposure. The public makes a child into a super model or actor, not by the parents’ desires alone, but by massive positive response to the child.
- Build From Strength – When a child has a particular talent, like singing for example, use this to gain a foothold in popularity, and then explore other avenues to increase popularity like acting or dancing. Child super models have this characteristic of being exceptionally talented in more than one area.
It is impossible to say with 100% certainty that any child actor or model will have a negative experience that is overwhelming. However, the possibility of a negative outcome is very high. Parents need to consider the ramifications of this in its entirety before subjecting their children to such pressures, because parents are ultimately responsible for the making of child models and child superstars. The children simply go along for the ride.