McNally, Grim Introduce Child Performer Protection Act

COLUMBUS, Ohio – State Reps. Lauren McNally of Youngstown and Michele Grim of Toledo introduced House Bill 521, the Child Performer Protection Act. 

The legislation would initiate steps to protect minors in Ohio who work in the entertainment industry from employment that is detrimental to their life and health. 

“The recent exposé of Nickelodeon’s treatment of its child stars has underscored the importance of protecting minor performers from exploitation and harm, with many former child actors coming forward with accounts of sexual abuse, abusive work environments, and racial and gender discrimination,” said McNally, D-59th. “As one of 17 states that does not regulate child entertainment at all, Ohio needs to do more to protect young performers who work in our state.”

The Child Performer Protection Act would:

  • Allow a child under 14 to be issued a work permit from their school district if they are a minor performer and of compulsory school age working in a motion picture, theatrical, radio or television production while providing instruction that complies with the law and is taught by a licensed individual.
  • Prohibit employment as a minor performer if the employment is detrimental to the minor’s life, health, safety, welfare or morals or interferes with the minor’s schooling.
  • Require accompaniment of a parent or guardian at all rehearsals, appearances, performances and sessions occurring in connection with the employment.
  • Place restrictions on the number of hours minors can work per week using a tiered system based on age.
  • Require an examination by an independent physician to verify that the minor is physically capable of the nature and duration of the employment.
  • Prohibit exposure to potentially hazardous conditions unless a trainer or accredited technician is always present during potential exposure.
  • Require a parent or guardian to establish a trust account for the minor’s benefit, in which 15% of their earnings during employment would be deposited.

“The laws currently in effect that are meant to protect children working in the entertainment industry have fallen quickly behind what is actually needed for some of our most vulnerable laborers,” said Grim, D-43rd. “Amendments and updates are needed now to bring these protections into the 21st century. The Child Performer Protection Act would put safeguards in place that would truly benefit child entertainers.” 

The bill now awaits assignment to a committee and a first hearing for further consideration.

Pictured at top: The Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.