Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Did You Know...? (First in a Series)

If you've read my recent posts, you know that I have strong feelings about pay-to-work modeling.  Child modeling is a profession, overseen by labor laws.  I have realized, though, in some of my advocacy work, that many parents are not aware of exactly how these labor laws protect their children.  So, I've decided to do some posts about different sections of the New York State law governing child performers -- with an eye toward the level of protection you need to have over your children and how the law supports that.  Here we go!  Part one:

Did you know…

According to NYS child performer law, each child on set must have a “responsible person” overseeing the wellbeing of that child.  Here is what the law says:

(a) Every child performer under the age of 16 shall be assigned a responsible person at least 18 years of age, whose duties shall be to accompany the child throughout the work day and to monitor the child’s safety and well-being. The employer shall allow the responsible person to be within sight or sound of the child at all times during the workday.

Essentially, the responsible person is YOU -- and this law protects YOUR right to watch over your child.  This is particularly important for any child who will be changing clothes – you should personally be in the presence of your child when your child will be undressing.  This isn’t just to prevent your child from being “touched” by someone on set, but also to prevent anyone from sneakily taking pictures of your child.  I don’t mean the photographer (but I will not exclude that possibility).  People on set are often employed by production companies hired by the client and you simply do not know if some tech or assistant is going to snap a shot of your child.  I recommend that you stand in front of your child to block anyone’s view (same or opposite sex) if the changing area is not absolutely private.  I cannot stress enough that there are perverts, sex offenders, and pedophiles out there – and they are often “trusted” adults that your child may have met before.  A common tactic is for someone to recognize a child and warm up to the kid by saying something like, “Remember me?  We met at the ___ shoot!” putting your child in the uncomfortable position of having to warm up to, essentially, a stranger.  Pediatricians, mental health professionals, and industry advocates say there are far more people to be concerned about on sets than we would ever know.

There are some other provisions in this section of the law; for example, the parent may designate a responsible adult over 18 if the parent is not available (if you have a nanny, relative, or even another performer’s parent watching your child that day).  There are further protections for children between 15 weeks and 6 months – these young ones actually require an employer to have a registered nurse on set.

This law now applies to print -- in addition to stage and on-camera.  That's a relatively recent development (within the past couple of years) and many print productions are not fully aware of these laws.  Ideally, your agent should be very familiar with them as well.  In case there is an issue that cannot be easily resolved on set, your first call should be to your agent -- who is the next in line after you as advocate for your child.

Until next time!

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