They start young in the Entertainment Industry

This has been a difficult to write. It began as follows

Today I took a digital visit to my trade union Equity's members area on their website. I have mixed opinions about the site as do many members I've spoken to over the years about it. The site has itself has won awards. Equity's public facing site deserves recognition and is clean and regularly updated. It has a useful news RSS feed which enables me to provide relevant industry news to my networks where this is appropriate. Currently the feed is on a private network I curate for Equity members who just can't wait for the official site to improve its social offering online and to a public Equity group on the National Theatre of Wales Comunity Network. Equity's official members area however is left wanting. There are constant efforts to improve the experience and a working party is working to create a mechanism to mirror the regional branch participation for members who are not regularly in their home region. The social offering consists of a simplistic forum. For me the main irritant is that is has do edit post facility even for a limited time. It also does not have multi-threaded conversation and limited moderation so conversations invariably go of topic and become very tricky for new comers to review.

A thread in todays visit bought home to me the necessity of Equity's private members area. The post was from a 11 yr old. The childs name has been kept private although on Googling their name returns quite a rounded social media presence including Twitter and Google+. It reminded me how different the Entertainment Industry is and it's trade union is a special organisation with very particular security issues.

"I am only 11 and I am very proud of being a member of Equity. I might like to be more involved. Possibly. I am not sure. But it would be better if there were other young children who I could go to a meeting with. What are the chaperoning rules? Would my mum HAVE to come? Is there any other kid out there?" The thread was titled "Are there any other kids here?" On this occasion Equity swiftly responded.

Equity like many trade unions have a Young Members Committee but with an entry age of 10 yrs old and an upper age of 26 there is a service being provided to young performers enabling them to actively shape their career and understand their right from a early age.

My thoughts moved further into the emerging conequences.

It's raised many questions about a world with dangers the previous generation are just not prepared for.

How are stage schools preparing child actors to deal with social media and the demands it makes on us personally? Bullying, exploitation, inapropriate engagement not to mention grooming.

What preparation are the chaperones who look after these bright, talented young people being given to guide and protect the child actors in thier care?

I should not be able to search these children's names as discover personal email addresses on industry websites.

Looking at web searched for child actors there is little information about guidance and the info I did find was focused of Broadway child performers.

What is the industry doing?

To be continued...