Congresswoman Ms. Campos of California and her team are introducing proposed new legislation this month that would require-if passed- any entertainment industry worker other than agents (agents are already regulated) that sees children under sixteen, to pay for a permit and have a background check done on them. This legislation is in reaction to a number of recent reports of child sexual abuses in the entertainment industry perpetrated by abusers who often were in violation of parole or the like.
In response to the proposed legislation, talent manager and film producer Bruce Edwin, who is also publishing editor of The Hollywood Sentinel-read by many of Hollywood’s top stars- has drafted a document and points of consideration for Ms. Campos which she and her office are now taking into consideration. The following is a portion of the proposal report and letter from Mr. Edwin to the congresswoman. For a copy of the complete letter, media may request the copy by calling the office of Bruce Edwin at 310-226-7176.
In addition to segments of item number three, the names of several production companies have been omitted, as has one paragraph regarding some specific abuses in regard to reality television, in order to preserve the integrity of the studios as it serves no benefit for public disclosure.
Solutions for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse in The Entertainment Industry
By Bruce Edwin
As a licensed talent manager of many years, film producer, and entertainment media publisher, I have enjoyed working in the music and film industry with success for a total of over twenty years in this exciting industry that I love, dealing daily with incredibly beautiful, talented, and creative individuals. As a former victim of child abuse, it is also one of my recent, legitimate passions to give back somehow, and help kids who have been abused, kidnapped, and trafficked, as well as to help prevent future scenarios of abuse that can be stopped before they occur.
The recent reports as detailed in The Los Angeles Times, concerning disturbing occurrences of persons using their positions of power in the entertainment industry to entice, trick, and abuse children, is a reality that is of grave importance to me which needs to be addressed and dealt with to the greatest extent of successful prevention. I applaud Ms. Campos’ and Ms. Mitchell’s efforts to work to change laws to better safeguard children. The following are my comments and proposals with regard to the new legislation.
Comments: Age of consent laws vary from country to country, and for that matter, even within our United States to some degree- from state to state. Considering the majority of entertainment is based in Los Angeles and New York City however, with CA having age 18 as lawful consent, that standard will be applied to this policy.
Actor Corey Feldman has gone on the record stating that the biggest problem in Hollywood is pedophiles. He further stated that he and some other child stars he knew at the time were sexually victimized by a top, famous, high powered Hollywood mogul that we all would know the name of, yet he has been fearful to reveal who. Why Mr. Feldman has this fear goes beyond career backlash, and extends into a fear for his life, as again, organized crime elements and other elements of high powered criminal individuals participate in or support the environment of child sex abuse in Hollywood.
This brief abstract will provide an unbiased, logical outline concerning the three fold aspects of the prevention of child abuse within the entertainment industry. The three categories of prevention are as follows; 1, Children (awareness of normative and abnormal behavior), 2, parents or guardian (presence and awareness), and 3, entertainment industry workers, (policy and controls).
1. Children; Kids are bombarded daily with sexualized images of adults, young adults or even children in the press and media of print, online, film, TV, and video games. Kids must be better taught by parents and schools what actions are not appropriate to incur by an adult.
I propose therefore that a state-wide and eventual nationwide educational campaign be implemented in all schools (upon careful evaluation of what newly created materials be screened), videos to show children, beginning at a young age, with more sophisticated educational videos being taught at increased grade levels, regarding spotting and preventing abuse. Also, educational programs should be implemented teaching self esteem. The more self esteem a child has, the less likely they are to be a victim. These would lead to the creation of actual required classes on preventing abuse, and self esteem, which includes basic human rights.
Further, the more a child is aware of what is unacceptable behavior from adults, the more of a chance the child will have in not being a victim. Education will include the importance of teaching children ‘no shame’ and ‘no fear’ in reporting real abuses, and creating a ‘safe zone’ in order for them to do so.
Lastly, companies that support protecting children should be given incentives, while those that contribute to child exploitation should be held accountable.
2. Parents or legal guardians; Parents and guardians must be taught to create a firm policy that their child is not left alone with an adult in the entertainment industry, with the exception of a group class in an academic, professional setting, in which case the teacher must undergo background investigation and provide current information with regard to residency and identification which will be policy created.
3. Entertainment industry workers; Requiring persons who work with kids under 16 to have special permits is not the solution. Why? A, sixteen and seventeen year old’s need protected also. B, some managers or similar execs do not see minors (in fact many do not), however, many times, adult talent may show up at the office of a manager or similar with their friend or younger brother or sister in tow. That third party may be a minor. Therefore, a permit for firms that see kids does not solve this problem. Kids exist, and whether they are are a primary source of business or not, may still show up. C, permits may deter, but do not prevent sexual predators from victimizing children. For example, a firm owner may get permitted, yet have a perpetrator hired or sub-contracted that is not permitted as an intern or assistant. An assistant to a third party may be employed who is not permitted who is a perpetrator. More permits will require more unnecessary time and cost to city, state, and taxpayers which will not necessarily deter abuse which can not cover every loophole.
The solution: Create policy which implements a complete ban on any child under 18 being left alone without the presence of parent or legal guardian for managers, casting directors, directors, producers, photographers, or any other entertainment personal outside of regulated, permitted, thoroughly background checked teachers in an educational setting or talent scouts* in public. This shall include visitors who are minors, but who are not the actual client or potential client. In other words, clients who are adults may not bring children under 18 that are not their own legal children to firms without presence of that childs’ parent or legal guardian.
This would not apply to talent scouts in a public setting, who do legitimately discover models and talents out doors in public, as one can not know the actual age of a person without asking, and often, kids will lie about their age to a person who is recruiting.
A separate policy for ‘talent scouting’ should be created as this is the first ‘point of contact’ a potential abuser may have with a potential child. A talent scout registry for example can be maintained on a public forum parents and public can view which indicates what legitimate company is permitted to scout. This would be the same companies which have entertainment licenses, and would have no charge to be listed. Those that are not listed- not licensed- would have to be reported as being not licensed, and would have to pay a small fee for their background check.
Policy will be enforced by signs which will need displayed at offices- just as business licenses must be, indicating to the public that company is aware of policy. Policy can further be enforced by public awareness campaign. It is suggested that no cost should be added to business owners for this law, however there should be stiff fines up to revoking of license for repeat violation.
With regard to the topic of scouting above, this further brings to light the aspect of fake I.D’s which kids often use. Some kids will ‘lose’ an I.D., and get a new I.D. to replace it, later ‘finding’ the I.D. and giving that I.D. to a younger friend (a minor) who may look similar, or who even will attempt to modify their look to more closely match the friend for their ‘new id’ in the photo. This needs addressed in a later forum, as this practice leads to miss-identification and puts kids in danger for further abuse.
Further solutions: Create policy for the entertainment and sporting industry that permits no overnight trips for educators without background papers of adult chaperon, no shared showers, and no shared changing rooms or locker rooms in which kids could end up alone in a hotel room or undressed with a potential perpetrator.