The 9/23/10 child labor hearings taking place this week in Harrisburg have me thinking about the Gosselin children and how filming “reality” shows has impacted their young lives. Although a few diehard Kate Gosselin fans cling desperately to the fantasy that being on television in a fake reality show is not only harmless but is actually beneficial to the children, most folks now know that not only have all of Kate’s shows been shams, but the children have been sacrificed in the process.
There are six forms of child abuse: Physical, emotional/psychological, sexual, verbal, neglect and exploitation. The list below is not an indictment of Kate or Jon but is intended to provide examples of various situations that the Gosselin children have experienced over the course of their being involved in entertainment. Remember as you read this list that these things are happening to children, who do not yet have the education, maturity and experience to deal with difficult situations. These situations would be challenging even for adults; IMO they are abusive to children.
- The children were filmed having a “pool party” on their sixth birthday, for the benefit of the cameras, in 47 degree weather.
- Unregulated hours of work, dependent on what the producers need, not whether the children are tired, hungry or don’t want to work anymore.
- Having to continue to work while vomiting or otherwise sick. (Under what other circumstances would anyone – even adults – be forced to continue working under these conditions?)
- Filming involves retakes, wearing fake happy smiles and staying clean and presentable at all times, plus lots of the “hurry up and wait” always involved in filming of any kind. This is not “I work while the children play,” as one parent has repeatedly claimed. This is hard, tedious, boring work.
- Coming downstairs and being surprised by beautifully wrapped gifts, and enjoying the thrill and excitement of Christmas, only to be told after the filming stopped that it wasn’t really Christmas after all, and that the whole scenario had been faked for the TV show.
- Years of invasions of privacy including cameras in the house, cameras following you around, paparazzi following you around, seeing your pictures on magazines and in the media, and everyone who meets you, including kids your own age, knowing who you are and all sorts of embarrassing things about you.
- The bullying and taunts that are routinely experienced by anyone on TV, but probably more so in this case because it’s called Reality TV so many viewers actually think it accurately reflects the children, and the children are shown in embarrassing, humiliating situations.
- Being put into the painful position where you have to choose between your parents, due to being used as a pawn in situations like the kids having to meet a parent at the gate because the other parent will not allow him on the property.
- Being subjected to repeated subtle (and not so subtle) comments from one parent putting down the other in public venues.
- Growing up learning that your needs and feelings are not as important as money.
- Having your work, over which you have no control, repeatedly described by a parent as play, as in "I work, they play while the cameras are rolling."
- Children being left alone with cameramen and others associated with the productions in areas such as bathrooms, bedrooms and woods without parental or adult caretaker supervision. These adults are not given criminal background checks and child abuse clearances which are readily available, cheap, confidential and legally required of all child care centers and other work situations where children are in the care of adults other than their parents. Why would a television production company that prides itself on being family-friendly not utilize these easily-accessible safeguards when working with children? There are no deficits to doing so, and doing so would only make them look more professional, conscientious and caring toward the families they contract with.
- Missing school and normal childhood activities, and disruption of normal childhood relationships, due to traveling and filming.
- Losing a series of adults whom they’ve grown to love and bonded with, because the adults were concerned or spoke out against what was happening or because a parent resented those caretakers becoming too famous or earning too good of a living while working with the children.
- One parent gone for long periods of time, leaving children with nannies rather than the other parent.
- No regulations about income. Who knows how much the children have had set aside for them, if anything? As recently as last month Kate stated she was worried about their college educations, despite the TV Guide claim that Kate makes $200,000 per episode of Kate Plus 8.
- The children have said at various times over the years that they do not want to film, yet filming them continues to provide family income.
- The children have been filmed having their diapers changed, going to the bathroom, in all manner of dress and undress, constipated, and vomiting, for entertainment of the audience. The children are way too young to be capable of consent to having these personal aspects of their lives filmed and sold. *
- Endangering the children by driving with them in the vehicle, up to 95 miles per hour in order to evade paparazzi, and driving at high speed at night with the vehicle lights off in order to be able to escape paparazzi.
- Experiences that would normally create happy memories for the children, such as being given crooked play houses, or even going to the store with a parent, are created for entertainment rather than being freely given to the children without ulterior motive, thus tarnishing what should be normal, private family experiences. (Children are not cute little puppies.)
My list is only a preliminary one which I was able to come up with in a brief amount of time. There are many more examples of ways the children have been hurt in the process of being involved with reality TV. Leave examples and links in comments and I’ll add them to this list as the week goes on. (I know those of you who watched the shows can come up with lots of them for verbal abuse.) In keeping with this week’s child labor laws hearings, examples should be specifically caused by the children being involved in entertainment.
Obviously, not all of the above issues can be addressed through proper legislation. The bottom line is parents need to make their kids, not income provided by their kids, a priority. We can legislate how many hours of work adults are allowed to squeeze out of minors, but we can’t legislate human values and integrity such as privacy or parents being empathic toward their children.
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Additions provided by commenters:
Kate announces dinner ... one of the twins goes by and makes a comment and Kate says something not nice along the lines of "living with this child on a daily basis". (Mickey McKean, 9/22)
Kate threatened the kids with "severe punishment" if they stepped foot in her bedroom. (Tizzie, 9/23)
In an early episode the mother yelled at the kids about upstairs vs downstairs toys, and threw a large toy down the stairs, almost hitting one of the twins. (Tizzie, 9/23)
Both parents on many occasions made fun of things the kids said or did on the show, particularly when they were eating something. (Tizzie, 9/23)
The mother saying everything she does is "for the kids" when in fact she cares more about buying / doing things for herself than them. (Tizzie, 9/23)
While other families have to downsize their home to something more affordable, the mother lives in a McMansion and complains about how "poor" she is. (Tizzie, 9/23)
The mother did nothing but yell at the kids when back to school shopping (available on YouTube) and barked out orders. She totally took the fun out of shopping for those new clothes and back to school items. (GeorgiaMom, 9/23)
The mother pinching a female tup and telling her she could DIE because she licked Purell off hands. (Wonky, 9/24)
The mother accusing a twin of lying on camera about requesting a milkshake in NYC. (Wonky, 9/24)
In the episode from 2009, when they first brought the kids to the new house, one of the older girls hit one of the little girls until she was on the ground, then proceeded to kick her. Jon nor Kate weren't there and a camera and sound person, at least, were present to film the fight, but did not interfere in anyway. (Lee, 9/20)
The vow renewal and fake re-wedding when they were already in the process of separation. The children were told Mommy and Daddy will be together forever, so their feelings were manipulated, just to sell a show. (GrandmaC, 9/21)
The cameras filming the children all night long, even as they slept, just in case wonderful, entertaining moments like bed-wetting or night terrors occurred. (Virginia Pen Mom, 9/21 ) *
Their parents' divorce was a ratings ploy for the kids' 5th birthday party episode. (CynSP, 9/21)
Mady rolling around on the basement floor with just a producer and a cameraman present, potty shots, and Hannah nude as a toddler. (Konspiracytheory 9/22) *
Trying to lead people to believe that the children are not working. (Heather, 9/22)
The kids were filmed changing into their gymnastics outfits. No nudity, but I recall thinking the twins were way too old to be shown that way (never mind the little ones). (Konspiracytheory, 9/23) *
All of the kids' embarrassing moments are filmed, and they get no say in what is shown and what is cut. However the mother's embarrassing moments get shown once and then are edited out at her request. (Tizzie, 9/23)
Whenever one of the kids cries, the camera zooms in on their face. (Tizzie, 9/23) *
When one of the twins and one of the younger girls both ran to Kate, one seeking justice and the other to cover up her crime of hitting the other, Kate ignored the allegations of a beat-down, and instead reprimanded the little one for offending the twin. Kate failed to respond appropriately to one child striking another, effectively reinforcing instead of correcting the behavior. (Lee, 9/20)
How about Kate berating that poor little boy by threatening to throw out his blanket (gumgate). He was nearly hysterical. (Linda 9/21)
How about Kate in NYC threatening to leave Cara behind with strangers. (Linda, 9/21)
Then there was Kate telling poor little Aiden to stop complaining and be a man. (Linda, 9/21)
Private body parts of Jon & Kate are publicly discussed and shown in the media. There's a legacy for the kids that includes thousands of pictures, stories, videos, etc. discussing the parents' "enhancements", body parts, wardrobe, life styles, friend choices, bodyguards and so on. (sftk, 9/21)
Kate kicking the only real family these children have out of their lives and telling herself and the children that the film crew is their family. (Barbara, 9/21)
One of the twins was humiliated when the clearly-favored, younger children received yet another fancy, expensive birthday party. The twin said, "I'll just die!" (Virginia Pen Mom, 9/21)
Their father isn't allowed to come inside their property (it is their house...they earned it!) gate to pick them up or drop them off. (CynSP, 9/21)
Mother making one of the tup girls sleep in the basement, alone. (Bettina, 9/21)
The mother telling the kids not to listen to their father. (txmom, 9/21)
One of the twins is having some sort of tantrum, mother yells at father to do something with her, then predicts on camera she will be a horrible teenager. (txmom, 9/21)
Buying the kids dogs and then sending them back after filming was finished. (LordyBee, 9/21)
Setting the kids up for failure / competition: K8 never cooks the kids a hot meal but when Cara and Mady play "mommy for a day" she gives them a challenging recipe (for their age.) (LordyBee, 9/21)
Mother not participating on any of the boys' special days. (Lordybee, 9/21)
Mother's constant berating and demoralizing behavior towards the father. (LordyBee, 9/21)
Hundreds of YouTube videos and online groups that attack one of the twins. (Lordybee, 9/21)
The Kate + 8 episode re the six pack's 6th birthday, where the kids were now in Florida and celebrating yet another "party" a week later and Mady does not understand why "they get 3 parties and we (twins) only get one day" and in the same episode Mady is feeling so ignored that she said, "nobody cares about me ... I just want to die". (Mickey McKean, 9/22)
Their mother favors the girls and called the boys "icky". (Mickey McKean 9/22)
On the Internet, adults with no formal education have not only labeled a twin's personality problems as fact, but have gone so far as to feel sorry for Jon and Kate to have a child like her. The twin can google her own name and find web sites that bash her personality. (Mickey McKean, 9/22)
In early August 2009 it was reported in the tabloids that per the father some of his kids were rebelling about being filmed - which kids were not identified - but the mother said on Larry King Live the show would continue. (Mickey Mckean, 9/23)
For the record the mother did mention in this dairy farm episode that the twins were upset that they were not included on this day trip because they were in school that day. So, were the twins not included in this episode because they no longer wanted to be filmed or was it because they were in school and were unavailable to work? It should be noted that this dairy farm episode was the last one to be filmed by TLC before the father stopped all filming of his children on October 1, 2009. (Mickey McKean, 9/23)
It seems that unless it is filmed for a show, the Gosselin children do not get to participate in any outside fun activies such as taking gymnastic classes because it is too much trouble. One could say that their fishbowl world is all about home, school, and work. No playing allowed! (Mickey McKean, 9/23)
There has been no evidence that the kids do ANYTHING unless the TLC cameras are there. Where is Kate driving them to music lesson? Softball? Gymnastics? To a friend's house? The father taking them horseback riding? Etc.? Nothing. No TMZ, radaronline reports or photos, and you know ROL would've jumped at the chance to promote Kate as a hands-on, do-it-myself mom. (heather (NOT Heather), 9/23)
There is photographic evidence that the kids have felt "abused" by all the paparazzi attention and are trying to show the world that they want it to stop. On several occasions a boy tup has been photographed hiding his face with his jacket or hands, a second boy tup did the same thing in New York City, a third boy tup made a face and pointed at the pap at an airport, and then at the father's apartment 3 kids hid under a beach towel. (Mickey McKean, 9/23)
The mother does not allow the kids to do normal kid things because she doesn't want them to get their clothes dirty or stained, because then she can't sell them later. (Tizzie, 9/23)
The mother says she's all about "making memories" but she threw away the kids' memory boxes. (Tizzie, 9/23)
The mother cleaned out the twins' room while they were at school, and threw their stuff down the stairs. (Tizzie, 9/23)
Buying the kids a treat and then the mother snatching it away from them because it's dripping or sticky. (Tizzie, 9/23)
All of the children are not allowed to express opinions, to become individual persons, to grow up. It looks like the mother is trying to keep the clock from moving forward to continue to cash in. (GeorgiaMom, 9/23)
The mother forcing the father to give up his job against his will so he could babysit kids while the mother and bodyguard went on book tour, and them the mother not allowing the husband or kids to call her while she was on the book tour. (Wonky, 9/24)
The mother's commonly-known nickname for the father was "stubby," in derogotory reference to a private part of his body. (Werny Gal, 9/26/0)
Adults (in the past it seemed to be always men on the crew) get in the kids faces with their equipment, but don't interact, respond or even prevent injury as the kids have meltdowns, injuries, get sick, or physically fight with each other. (Lee, 9/20)
The lack of physical affection from the mother toward the kids. (sftk, 9/21) and (Pat, 9/21)
An episode where one of the sextuplets was beating the other over the head with a toy repeatedly. Again, this stuff happens, it's kids growing up, HOWEVER, any normal adult at the very least would've yelled "Knock it off!!" But the film kept rolling. (heather-NOT-Heather, 9/21)
Not giving the kids sea sickness pills before the fishing trip, and taking them out w/o a change of cloths or sweat shirts - it's always colder a few miles out on the ocean and if you run into fog, freezing. (Pat, 9/21)
Keeping the kids "babyish" - sippy cups, high chairs, not ensuring they learn age appropriate skills. (LordyBee, 9/21)
Mady rolling around on the basement floor with just a producer and a cameraman present. Potty shots, Hannah nude as a toddler. (Konspiracytheory, 9/22) *
The children are repeatedly around and alone with people whose background had not been cleared. This is an easy step of precaution for them to take. (Heather, 9/22) *
The fishing episode: Life jackets - required or not - should have been insisted upon by their mother for their own safety. (Heather, 9/22)
The six pack who are starting kindergarten still do not know how to tie their shoes which is why the mother bought them tennis shoes with velcro straps. (Mickey McKean, 9/22)
In order to have the six pack available to film a reality TV show, in August 2009 at age 5 years 3 months they were enrolled in pre-kindergarten classes that were only held 3 days a week. In August 2010 the six pack at age 6 years 3 months started kindergarten classes. This means that they will be driving when they are freshmen in high school and will be 19 years old when they graduate from high school. Many viewers believe if the mother had taken the time to teach these children age appropriate things instead of trying to keep them as young as possible to make them marketable for a TV show, these six children could have been enrolled in regular kindergarten at the appropriate ages. (The episode where the six pack walked to the neighbor's dairy was shot mid week after school started. It should be noted that this episode could not have been filmed during the week if the six pack had been enrolled in regular kindergarten classes.) (MIckey McKean, 9/23)
There was an episode where the mother decided she was going to hire a nanny. The mother went to an agency that specializes in nannies and Kate had either the owner or a manager do an initial interview with the candidate while the mother was watching the interview in an adjoining room on closed circuit TV. Only if the mother was impressed with the initial interview did she choose to meet and interview the candidate herself. Discovery Channel was recently reminded that there are nuts out there - so doesn't it make sense to pay $15 per employee background check before something happens to someone's child and the finger is pointing at your employee(s)? And aren't the lives of these eight children worth the parents paying for some background checks at $15 each if TLC will not do it? (Mickey Mckean, 9/23)
Letting kids run like monkeys and out of eyesight while in department store. (Wonky, 9/24)
Letting kids play with and fight over large display Croc in crowded display area of shoe dept while she tried on shoes. (Wonky, 9/24)
The mother allowing kids to melt down from hunger on regular basis. ie: at dairy farm, kids were so hungry they drank several cups of chocolate milk each. The mother then counted the milk as a meal and did not feed them dinner later that night. (Wonky, 9/24)
The mother ignoring kids' squabbles, or shooing them off as they try to explain a problem (locked out of bedroom in Party City episode) so she can continue talking to the camera. (Wonky, 9/24)
The filming of a boy tup's impacted bowels while his mother was completely immersed in choosing freebie bunk beds. (Irene, 9/21) *
Boy tup being placed on laundry room floor because he has vomited on his new comforter- the mother exits, turning off lights & closing door - Leaving sick vomiting child alone laying on the floor in a dark windowless room - the father came home from work, rescued boy from laundry room floor. (Susie, 9/21)
When dropping kids off at their church Sunday school, girl tup starts gagging - the mother yells"don't you vomit on so & so"- then the mother says to camera, "girl tup vomits when upset." The mother then continues talking to the camera saying she (the mother) makes her daughter wear vomitus clothes the rest of the day as punishment, to break this habit. (Susie, 9/21)
The clearly unhappy kids were taken out deep sea fishing without wearing life jackets and dragged around New York during a heat emergency for hours upon hours, for filming. (CynSP, 9/21)
The mother's rough handling of the kids when she would brush their teeth in the middle of the kitchen. All I could think of, was ouch, she was tearing out their gums. (Pat, 9/21)
Cupcake episode, and denying a thirsty twin water. (txmom, 9/21)
Kids had to endure a Good Housekeeping photo shoot wearing heavy fall clothing ( it was for a Thanksgiving cover) in August when the temp was over 90 degrees. (LordyBee, 9/21)
Extra bright stage lights installed in the home. (LordyBee, 9/21)
Buying the kids dogs and then sending them back after filming was finished. (Lordybee, 9/21)
Keeping the kids "babyish" - sippy cups, high chairs, not ensuring they learn age appropriate skills. (LordyBee, 9/21)
Setting the kids up for failure / competition : the mother never cooks the kids a hot meal but when the twins play "mommy for a day" she gives them a challenging recipe (for their age.) (LordyBee, 9/21)
Mother not participating on any of the boys' special days. (LordyBee, 9/21)
Mother constantly berates and demoralizes husband in front of kids and on camera. (LordyBee, 9/21)
Kids witness mother's lies and deceit and must keep them a secret. (LordyBee, 9/21)
Hundreds of YouTube videos and groups that attack one of the twins. (LordyBee, 9/21)
How about the wooden spoon in the door of the van, and the big red spoon seen in several episodes (lying on the kitchen counter, tucked under the father's arm as he yelled at a flinching twin)... the Thomas the Tank Engine epi, where a twin flinches when her angry father approaches her. Also, the father's 'walk in the woods' epi where one of the girl tups flinches when he angrily breaks a walking stick and hurls it into the woods...Then there's the infamous interview with the mother with the double whammy of denying a twin water and pinching a female tup to make her sit still. The mother steering the boy tups by their heads, the mother forcing the tups in general to hold their arm directly upright while holding her hand (clearly showing them that she is in control). The mother lifting the baby tups out of their cribs by their arms, the father taking them out of the van in the same manner, the mother recently chucking one of the boy tups out of the van (school bus photo op), the mother 'mashing' a boy top's mouth at the bus stop. (Konspiracytheory, 9/22)
A guard at Seseme Place told them it was 113 degrees that day. In the mother's words: "it was dangerously hot," and "We're not water park people." The kids had to settle for 'fun' in the sweltering heat on the few non-water rides there (they have added more since this was filmed - we've been many times), then indoor lunch and an indoor show (thank goodness), only then to be followed by a brief time at the end where they were allowed to do the water stuff because it took them "two hours" (the mother's words) to get them in and out of their swim stuff. (Konspiracytheory 9/23)
The mother waiting over a week to make a doctors appt for a twin to address her hurt foot and blaming the ex-husband for not doing it even though she had custody of the twin for several days herself before calling the doctor. (Wonky, 9/24)
One staffer told the media how the mother would smack her children with a large, plastic spoon when they refused to play nice for the camera and when they misbehave. (Tizzie, 9/25)
When one of the boys closed a door on another one once, the mother got in their faces and yelled, 'You tell me the truth about what happened!' The children just stood there, terrified. Then she dragged one of the boys into the bathroom and spanked him five or six times with a large plastic mixing spoon. You could hear the mother forcefully whacking the child and the child screaming at the top of his lungs. (Tizzie, 9/25)
About the above two incidents: The source claimed that this happened more than once but the mother didn't want any of it in the show. (Tizzie, 9/25)
Yard scenes were filmed when it was very cold outside, it was not shot in the fall or spring. Before the scenes could be shot the lawn first had to have all snow removed and then the grass was spray painted green in order to make the white sign really "pop". It took a lot of time to film these scenes - it took a lot of retakes - but the children were not allowed to wear jackets because it would not be "visually pleasing". They were wearing long sleeved shirts, but not the jackets that would be required of weather than was the 32 degrees or less that is required for snow in PA. (Mickey McKean, 9/25)
An eye witness on Sunday Sept 26 described the children being hounded by fans on a visit with their father and his girlfriend at a nearby arcade. The witness said adults and children were trying to get near the kids by taking their pictures, ignoring the father and girlfriend when they tried to make them stop. Even in the ball pit area there were kids talking to the kids about the show; the kids looked uncomfortable. (Mickey Mckean, 9/26)
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