A lot of attention is being paid to non-nude model sites. Like so many terms for adult pages, "non-nude" is misleading. Non-nude pages are not websites dedicated to legal-aged women posing in bikinis reminiscent of by-gone cheesecake photography. Non-nude model sites are a more heinous monster. They are websites that feature models who are under the age of eighteen.
In fact, the preferred age range for non-nude models sites is 13 and under. These pages present children in gallery settings, pose them in provocative costumes and stances and charge membership fees. Any adult webmaster will tell you, non-nude model pages are marketed and formatted in the same fashion as a porn paysite.
Is this a crime? Technically, no.
Even the United States Supreme Court found these sites to be a gray area. Since the children are not nude or engaging in sexual acts, they are not considered obscene. The creators of these sites actually get permission to photograph the kids from their parents, which also adds to the legality of their endeavors. The ones who create non-nude, underage content are pretty slick operators. They tell parents that the sites are online modeling portfolios. They tell the guardians and caretakers of the children that the websites will garner publicity and that those surfers who pay for memberships are talent agents and Hollywood producers.
Since the kids aren’t nude and it’s approved by the parent, no harm, no foul, no crime. Right?
According to the Fair Labor Standards act of 1938, child labor laws apply differently to those in the entertainment and arts professions. The standard rules for employed minors are more concerned with regulating safety and making sure that kids aren’t missing out on school because of work. Regular child labor laws limit the hours a child can work and state clearly the minimum age of employment, which is generally 15.
Kids can’t perform potentially dangerous tasks, operate certain machinery or drive particular vehicles according the regular child labor laws. Those kids who are involved in the entertainment industry are exempt from normal child labor laws. There are no limitations on the minimum age of a child performer. Child performers don’t have to limit their work time to the stated hours that their blue-collar counterparts have to. As long as they have a parent present during the work, a child can work at any entertainment-related job.
Creators of non-nude underage websites take full advantage of this loophole in child labor laws.
I bring up child labor laws because I feel that the wrong agencies are being utilized to fight the scourge of child porn. Yes technically, non-nude, underage model sites are not porn, but the only ones being fooled by this convoluted logic are the children and their money-hungry guardians.
The proliferation of these exploitative Internet sites is not an obscenity issue; it's a child labor issue. The trump card that child labor enforcers have is the question of the child's welfare. Even in entertainment related employment; the safety of the child overrides the exemptions of the profession. Instead of trying to regulate these sites by deeming them obscene, we should be pursuing the owners and creators of these places with child labor regulations. What needs to happen is that this type of work should be determined to be detrimental to the welfare of the children involved.
The entertainment industry treats children very well these days but that was not always the case. Back in the early 1930s while other kids were picking cotton and slaving away in sweatshops, the entertainment industry was exploiting children too.
They took cute little girls, put them in skimpy costumes and suggestive situations, worked them for hours on end and gave any earnings to their greedy parents. Kids were shuffled out in front of any possible audience. They were given uppers for breakfast and downers for bed. They missed out on educations, were subjected to dangerous working conditions that no child performer of today would even get near. What money these kids made was squandered by their parents and guardians. Whatever childhoods they could have had, they lost to the world of showbiz. That is, until Jackie Coogan came along.
Those who are younger than seventy may not be familiar with the name Jackie Coogan. At one time, he was the most popular child actor in all of American Film. He worked hard for years pumping out movies for his employers, all the while being assured in the faith that when he turned 21, all his earnings would be turned over to him. Unfortunately his father who protected his interests, died before Jackie reached 21. When Jackie turned 21 and went to get his money, he found out that his loving mother had spent it all.
Instead of quietly suffering like Shirley Temple did when she was dealt a similarly dirty deal, Jackie enacted the unthinkable and sued his own mother. The result was the California Child Actor's Bill, better known as the Coogan Law. It requires that fifteen percent of a child's earnings be set aside in a trust that cannot be tapped without a court order until the child comes of age. It also categorizes ALL of the child's earnings as their own separate property.
In other words, the money a child performer makes does not belong to the parents or the guardian of that child. Suing his mom hurt Jackie Coogan as far as the public was concerned. Even though he improved the lives of many generations of children, the only thing today's generation will remember Jackie Coogan for is that he played Uncle Fester on the Addam's Family television show.
The children that pose for photographers who make non-nude websites should be eligible for and protected by labor laws. If the kids are being paid to do a job, then their employers should be subjected to the same restrictions, inspections and regulations of anyone that employs children. If those who enforce child labor laws finally figure out that this type of modeling is severely psychologically damaging to the kids who do it, then maybe we can put an end to this disgusting form of thinly veiled pedophilia.