The Exploitation of Children in Hollywood


When you think of Hollywood there are probably a few things that come to mind, gold-plated streets, hand prints, and giant million-dollar mansions. But most of all you think of the dazzling stars who get to live this American dream. But when you dive into it you may find that this ‘Hollywood dream’ is not so sunshine and rainbows as you may have thought it to be.

Moving onto the subject

Before I start with this article and rant I’d like to warn you that this may feature some crude things that may not be suitable for all audiences, themes such as substance abuse, exploitation, mistreatment of children in the industry, and sexualization of minors. If you don’t think that that’s something you may be able to handle that is completely fine and I advise you to please click off and check out our other content for your safety! Without further ado, let’s discuss this hot topic.

As said before, the Hollywood dream is a life of what many people dream to have and go through many many acting and singing classes just to touch the tip of the mark, but what’s little known is the discussion of the abuse and exploitation in Hollywood. When you think of child actors you must think of movies such as The Little Rascals, Home Alone, The Goonies, etc.

You may think “Those are such cute movies, what could be wrong with them?” Now, that may not be the case for some of the movies, but others featuring child actors have very, very dark things going on behind the scenes. And some names of those child actors already come to mind when I’m writing this, one of those people being Shirley Temple, a star child actor in the 30s-60s.

Shirley Temple is known mostly for her voice and acting roles in starring movies and is nicknamed “Curly Top” by Hollywood and her fans for her curly hair. However, these light-hearted cute movies can’t be called the same for Miss Temple, and as a matter of fact, some of her memories onsets are far from that

Mistreatment behind the scenes

Shirley Temple started acting at the age of three, one of her first of many movies part of the short-film series “Baby Burlesks.” However, these films were far from innocent or cutesy, this film is definitely one of the most controversial ones as it should be. In this Shirley and many other toddlers her age starred as individuals at a bar, Shirley playing a singer and women of the night at the bar, however, that’s not even the worst part, many of the toddlers were advised to behave inappropriately as Shirley was advised to say quotes and lines such as “I’m expensive,” all implicating inappropriate acts that a three-year-old definitely shouldn’t be saying, and the horror on the side doesn’t end there. Behind the curtains and stage lights, many toddlers were mistreated if not being able to get it right on the first try or weren’t behaving the way the producers wanted them to.
“There was a block of ice in a dark box, toddlers would be sent to sit in it if they weren’t doing what they were told, it would be freezing cold and completely dark,” Shirley recalls.
That wasn’t even the only horror Shirley faced in her career, at age twelve Shirley’s producer took her into his office and exposed himself to her. Shirley, only being twelve and not knowing how to react, began laughing hysterically, making the producer furious, shooing her out of his office and yelling at her to get out.
You can excuse this and brush this off by saying, “While that is terrible, that’s only one movie, not all children in the industry face this same fate.”
Which is true, not all children in the industry are prone to abuse but it’s enough children, there should have never been any cases of mistreatment behind the set, to begin with. And with that, I move on to the next case, Judy Garland.

Judy Garland

Judy Garland was an American actress born June 10, 1922. She was active from 1924 to 1969, she’s starred in many roles in films but her most known is her role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz! A classic original film musical about a young girl falling into another world and her only wish is to go home, a movie of magic and mysticism. However, Judy’s experience behind the set of wizards of oz was anything but. Judy Garland was 16 when she was picked for her role of Dorothy in wizard of oz’s, ecstatic and excited she was but nothing could prepare her for everything she was about to face on the big stage.
During the filming of wizard of oz, Judy Garland was sexually harassed multiple times by the actors who played the munchkins, as told that they would spank her from behind and reach up her dress to jab at her inappropriately, the people in charge of her and those her managed weren’t much better. Judy was kept on extremely strict diets, being only allowed to eat chicken soup and drink coffee, all while being forced to smoke 80 cigarettes a day to beat away her appetite and keep her thin and young-looking when playing Dorothy. Despite her amazing performance as Dorothy she still was treated unfairly, the dog who played her pet Toto was paid more than she was.- A dog over a human girl who lived complete mental torture on that set! Paid more. Disgusting.

Children of celebrities

Children of celebrities is a whole other topic but I feel it does still fit in this category, if anything is more talk of the media than child actors I’d say it has to be children of celebrities. Being born into a family who is already known for their success in the media whether it be singing, dancing, acting, etc. Eyes are already on you right from the start, which can cause many privacy violations and issues in the future with child celebrities. Having people bet on their success from the day they were born.


Child exploitation is of course a major problem, children being mistreated, abused, and used for inappropriate acts is an everyday occurrence and problem we still fight in today’s society. But when you’re witnessing it with millions of others on the big screen, what will you do? You can say that you can’t take all children out of the industry, and you cannot rob talented children of their own success. But knowing what goes on behind the scenes and the consequences they’ll face later in life for it, is it still worth it? Should children under the age of 18 still be allowed in the industry? And with my complete and honest opinion; No. I think not, children are young and impressionable, children cannot consent. Children deserve the right to have a childhood and live carefree while they can without having to be constantly put under the light and have a camera shoved in their face. With all the horrors of the industry, child exploitation has always been one of the biggest issues, and turning away and sweeping it under the rug because it’s far too ‘sickening’ or far too ‘sad.’ doesn’t help the cause of the children in need of help, history has proved itself numerous times that things will not change until one of us steps in and does something. The choice to think that children should still be able to act and star in roles is yours, but to step in and stand up for them is ours. What do you think? Should there be more laws to help protect child actors? Should children not be allowed at all in Hollywood? Do children in the industry have more weight on them than we know?

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