I Don't Care if Pedophiles Look at My Kids

Little girl photo session in the park

Living in New York City, you don’t have to go looking for opportunities for your kids to model or act in commercials. The opportunities come to you. So far, my sons have appeared in a picture book about how Jews can look all sorts of different ways (they’re African-American) and in a board-book to teach baby sign language, while my daughter has done some print modeling for local parenting publications and co-starred in a web commercial for Prudential and an anti-Happy Meal spot. Not to mention, I use shots of all three of them for the parenting posts I write (like this one!).

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They don’t have an agent and I don’t aggressively go looking for jobs, but if something comes up that I think would be fun for them to do, we give it a shot and see what happens. I’m one of those moms who believes life is for having as many diverse experiences as possible; plus, I think it’s important for kids to learn how to deal with a variety of people and situations. Because we don’t go out for major productions or national advertisers, the money they make is very little. It won’t pay for college -- or even a day at an NYC private elementary school. But what it does do is give my kids a sense of what it means to work for a living, and to take direction and feedback from someone whom you have to please prior to getting paid.

Not to mention that having their own money means when they really, really, really need something and I tell them, well, if you really, really, really think you need it, you can buy it yourselves ... suddenly, they don’t really, really, really need it anymore. Or even want it, for that matter.

Having worked in TV production and competitive figure-skating, I know the downsides to putting young children in the limelight. (For the record, I also know the upsides, and there are plenty of those, too.) But here is something that worries others, although it doesn’t worry me: Pedophiles looking at pictures of my kids.

When they learn that I let my kids’ pictures be published, many parents ask me, “Aren’t you concerned about sick people looking at them on the Internet?

There’s been a lot of talk about pedophiles lately, from the secretly tape-recorded confession of 7th Heaven star Stephen Collins to best-selling author John Grisham’s statement about unduly harsh prison sentences for men who look at kiddie porn to the utterly bizarre trend of stealing baby photos off Instagram and using them in role-playing games.

If Collins did indeed expose himself and molest young girls like his ex-wife claims, then he is a disgusting, obscene criminal who should be locked up. Those who force children to be photographed for porn sites are monsters who deserve even worse. And anyone who copies Instagram photos is stealing other people’s personal property, no more, no less, which is also a crime.

But here’s the thing: If my children take part in a professional photo-shoot (on which I always accompany them, by the way), one where the most stressful thing they’re asked to do is hop up and down while blowing bubbles until they’re winded so the photographer can get the shot she needs, and then that perfectly innocent photo is used by someone for their own sick purposes ... how does that hurt my kids in any way?

There is no identifying information on the photos so a child molester could find them. And even if the image is manipulated and turned into something horrible, that still doesn’t mean anything horrible has been done to my child.

I suppose the argument could be extended that making photos of children available on the Internet, even innocent ones, serves to inflame unsavory desires. But couldn’t that also be said about children’s mere existence? If the Internet weren’t there, there are always the 20th-century standbys like magazines and clothing catalogs. And if you get rid of those, there are still children on the street. Were the days of pedophiles hanging around at playgrounds to get their fix really preferable?

Child predators are a problem (though there is also the issue of labeling someone a sex offender whether they’re a 50-year-old raping a 2-year-old, a 19-year-old having consensual sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend, or one 6-year-old kissing another’s hand during reading group). But it is not a problem that is going to be made worse by my (or anyone’s) children doing a little modeling. And it is not a problem that’s going to affect them solely because they do it.

So to the well-meaning question of, “Aren’t you concerned about sick people looking at them on the Internet,” my answer is, “No.”

What's yours?


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