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What We’re Watching: We must take action for child stars

With the release of “Quiet on Set,” many viewers' childhoods were crushed by learning about the extent of manipulation and torment many of the young actors faced while working for Nickelodeon. From emotional abuse to sexual assault, everything came to light with testimonies and anecdotes recalled by the now grown-up actors. 

In one of the most shocking moments of the show, Drake Bell from “Drake and Josh” recounts his experience of being sexually assaulted by dialogue coach and fellow actor Brian Peck over four months. When asked what happened, he described the experience by saying, “Why don’t you imagine the worst thing someone could do to someone as sexual assault? I don’t know how else to put it.” 

As the documentary is still releasing episodes, there are still more stories that have yet to be heard. The series has made people consider laws and protections regarding young actors in Hollywood, specifically if the industry is doing enough to protect children. The short answer is not at all. 

The documentary’s co-director Mary Robertson said her main concern regarding children working in Hollywood was that along with the actors usually being the sole providers for their families, they “Oftentimes, … feel as though they don't have the advocates or allies necessary to help them navigate and understand when they have the ability to say ‘no,’ or ‘I'm uncomfortable with that,’ or ‘I'd like to change that.’” 

There’s no real safe outlet for child actors, or at least one they can fully trust. As shown in “Quiet on Set,” parents of the actors were often kept outside the circle, meaning their children would fully be under the supervision of strangers, adults who were supposed to protect their children, but instead took advantage of their innocence and limited knowledge of the world. 

The system was set up for them to be taken advantage of, and Hollywood has done next to nothing to change the pattern of abuse. According to TheWrap, there are rules in place regarding child actors, specifically “Current guidelines call for parents of minors to keep their child within “sight and sound” at all times, and for a child actor’s shift to be regulated.” 

The article also mentions that even during the initial events of “Quiet on Set,” Nickelodeon allegedly didn’t run background checks on those working with minors. An insider at Nickelodeon even said that “unions don’t like them,” clearly showing the network’s focus on its image rather than the well-being of the underage actors. 

With everything that’s come out, it’s unclear where the stories told on “Quiet on Set” will go next. However, with the information already released, the abuse of minors extends throughout the entertainment industry as a whole. In just the short time since the documentary’s release, it has made waves on social media. It’s sparked a massive conversation surrounding child actors and how they need to be better protected in the industry. 

I believe it’s extremely important for us as outsiders to take it upon ourselves to help, whether by simply sharing information or making GoFundMe’s and legislative changes to ensure that child actors are safe while in the workforce. I don’t think “Quiet on Set” is a first step, but it’s another step in opening a younger generation’s eyes and understanding it’s not out of our power to make a change.

Mia Ashby is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Mia by emailing her at

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