Protecting The Guild’s Youngest Members In Cyberspace
All actors face the daunting task of protecting one’s career and image while confronting the need for prolific exposure of their likeness and name to sustain that career. And while new technologies are creating great opportunities for all union members, it is important to take pause and recognize that the Internet does, in fact, leave our youngest members most susceptible to peril. We’ve all heard stories about innocent cyber exchanges and Web postings gone bad. The realities of promoting the careers of young performers in cyberspace leave these children more vulnerable than most.
Tips and Tools for Young Performers
Parents and guardians of young performers frequently face issues that most parents do not have to address. In the course of your child’s acting pursuit, you are frequently asked to provide personal information to agents, casting directors and production companies. As your child’s union, the union urges you to be very cautious.
SAG-AFTRA offers the following fundamental tools to help protect young union members in cyberspace:
- Know your photographer. Check references. What reputation does he or she have in the industry? Is there a concern that he or she might use your child’s photographs improperly and without your authorization?
- Know the agent or manager you are dealing with. What reputation does he or she have in the industry? Speak to other parents who may have worked with him or her before.
- If a photographer or potential agent or manager asks your child to pose in a manner that makes you uncomfortable, make those feelings known. If you are not given an explanation that alleviates your concerns, follow your instincts, even if it means ending the photo shoot.
- Limit personal information on your child’s headshot and resume. Do not list the names of the school your child attends, sports teams he/she plays on, community activities she/he is involved with, or any other information from which his or her location could be ascertained by someone with malicious intent. Similarly, limit information that could later be used to make a stranger sound like a friend. Do not list your child’s personal email address! (If you feel an email address is necessary, list one that only you and/or your child’s agent or manager has access to.)
- Monitor your child’s Internet activities. Who is he or she chatting with online? Is he or she providing personal information to strangers or submitting personal information to Web sites? Federal Law, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”), requires that Web sites that collect certain information from children under 13 obtain a parent’s permission prior to allowing the child to submit the personal information.
- Review the general tips on the Guild Web site that are applicable to performers of all ages. In many cases, these tips are all the more important for child performers.
- Be cautious when parting with your money. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
www.meganslaw.ca.gov - check the site to find sexual predators residing in your area.
Netsmartz.org – Interactive, educational Internet safety presentations for all ages.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (CyberTipline)
Kidsmartz Video available at bryancranston.com
LA Police Dept Juvenile Division, Sexually Exploited Child Unit: (213)485-2883
BizParentz.org- a non-profit corporation designed to provide education, advocacy and charitable support to parents and children engaged in the entertainment industry.
* While SAG-AFTRA does not endorse any of the specific organization listed in the Resource list above, the union and SAG-AFTRA Foundation urge all members to be well-informed and seek legal advice when necessary. The union provides its tips, tools and resources below as general information. The SAG-AFTRA Young Performers Committee is dedicated to advocating rights for child actors via initiatives, programs and events throughout the year, many of which are made possible with the assistance of The SAG-AFTRA Foundation and The Actors’ Fund.
Along with verifying references and researching background, parents and guardians need to be on the alert for warning signs. The following checklist assists in identifying one or more indicators for potential behavior warnings.
- Services that cater solely to minors.
- Workplace is oriented exclusively to children.
- Extensive collecting of child photographs, accompanied by the purchasing and trading of photographs of children.
- Overly friendly to your child.
- Disregards child, parent or guardian’s wishes and comfort level. Exerts control.
- Uses secrets/confidences to enlist trust.
- Portrays him or herself as the children’s only support system.
- Offers inappropriate gifts.
- Use of a “retreat” location other than place of business.