It makes good sense that there should be a law to keep sexual predators from working with children in general but given what we now know about the underbelly of Hollywood, a law specifically focusing on the entertainment industry seems justified.
Governor Jerry Brown signed one into law in 2012. It may be one of the least dunderheaded things he’s done. The problem is that the law isn’t working. Without enforcement, you can pass all the laws you want but as we often argue with regard to gun laws, the only people who are going to abide by the law are not the people the law was written for.
Deadline is reporting that the reason why the California law protecting kids in the entertainment industry isn’t working is that Hollywood is basically ignoring it.
One of the key California laws designed to protect child actors from sexual predators has gone largely ignored and unenforced since it was enacted five years ago. The law requires publicists, managers, acting coaches and headshot photographers who work with child actors to be fingerprinted and pass an FBI background check to screen out registered sex offenders. Only then will they be issued a Child Performer Services Permit.
This makes sense. When I signed up to teach religious education at my church in the late 90s, I literally had to do the same thing. Nobody in Hollywood is doing it according to Deadline.
A Deadline investigation, however, has found that not a single Hollywood publicist who represents child actors has obtained a permit. Dozens of managers, acting coaches and photographers who work with child stars have also failed to comply with the law, which is punishable by a year in county jail and a $10,000 fine. And yet, no one has ever been charged with breaking it.
People are going to get away with things that you let them get away with. It is astounding that no one has ever been charged while so many flagrantly ignore the law. Clearly enforcement mechanisms weren’t established or if they were, they have been run by incompetents.
The law, AB 1660, prohibits registered sex offenders from “representing or providing specified services to artists or performers under 18 years of age.” Fingerprints and FBI background checks are required to ensure that registered sex offenders don’t skirt the law by working under assumed names.
There are also loopholes easily exploited by creepy individuals.
At the time, the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Nora Campos, said that “Under the existing law, talent agents are regulated; however, casting directors, managers and photographers are not. This loophole makes it very easy for a predator to gain access to children working within the entertainment industry.”
AB 1660 was passed in response to specific cases where pedophiles found their way back into the business after being convicted. As seems to be the case sometimes with laws passed while politicians are in “we have to do something about this” mode, there was no follow through.
This is at least in part a result of the inherent problems with centralized government. They’re good at making rules but not good at enforcing them. Elected officials are usually hidebound to the idea that making more rules will somehow correct the problem with the existing rules not achieving the desired effect.
The only real way to solve this sort of problem is for the parents of child actors to step up and refuse to allow their kids to work with anyone who doesn’t obtain the proper certifications. The lure of money and fame probably makes that unlikely in a lot of cases though.