video chat set upWow, one mom in Massachusetts is probably wishing she had scaled back on DVR-ing so many episodes of Toddlers & Tiaras. In an attempt to get her 10-year-old daughter some modeling work, the woman allegedly agreed to let her child pose nude in a Skype online video chat with a man she said she believed was a professional photographer in Florida. Apparently, she was told her daughter would be paid $20,000 for posing in a bathing suit, but the "photographer" said he needed to see the girl naked, in order to "assess her body type." Ugh.

The creeper was actually arrested recently in Iowa and faces federal child porn charges. As for the mom, she was just released on $2,500 cash bail, after pleading not guilty to charges of posing a child in the nude, indecent assault and battery on a child, and child endangerment. Eeesh!

Seems like the finger-pointing in this case could get out of control.

Who's really to blame here? The fake photog, the mom? Both? I feel like there's something bigger than them at play here, too, which is worth noting.

We might think shows like Toddlers & Tiaras or Dance Moms or even the Kardashians' attempts to get teen Kendall Jenner sexy modeling work are crazy but harmless reality TV fun. But the truth is that seeing that kind of thing all the time, especially under the guise of "reality," probably makes us at least a bit numb to examples of REAL child exploitation. In a world where tots are wearing padded bras, a 10-year-old child doing a bathing suit shoot (never mind the nudity part!) may seem like nothing. No, it's not necessarily ALWAYS going to turn into a scary, exploitative situation, but it always has the potential to! Obviously, this story is just one example of how throwing kids into fame-seeking situations can rapidly get out of hand.

At the very least, it's a relief to see that -- judging from the charges brought down on the man in Iowa and the mom in Massachusetts -- cases like this are being taken incredibly seriously by the courts. It's comforting to know that children are being protected from not just pedophiles online, but from parents who might be throwing them to the wolves for a taste of fame and fortune.

Who do you think is to blame? Do you think shows like Toddlers & Tiaras are setting the stage for situations like this one?

 

Image via Jakob Montrasio/Flickr