Can you imagine how frightening it must be to a child to constantly be in the public eye? Or how frustrated celebrity parents must be about their every family moment recorded and their children quite often scared or intimidated by the power of the paparazzi to follow their every move. Some celebrity parents understand that their celeb status means all this attention, but they have stood up and said our children are off limits. Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry leads the charge towards legislation to deter paprazzi from getting to close to the kids.
Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner testified on behalf of Senate Bill 606 in California. This bill is designed to protect the children of celebrities, increases the possible punishments for harassing celebrity kids and provides more definition to the word "harassment." (See the entire bill) Senator Kevin de Leon sponsored the bill. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill and now it's a law.
Here's the definition of harassment according to the bill: "includes conduct in the course of the actual or attempted recording of children's images and/or voices, without express parental consent, by following their activities or lying in wait."
Halle Berry says, "I started this fight with a great deal of hope and a bit of uncertainty so I cannot express my immense gratitude that Gov. Brown has recognized, and acted to remedy, the plight of children who are tormented because of the identity or prominence of their parents," the star said in a statement. "On behalf of my children, it is my hope that this is the beginning of the end for those overly aggressive paparazzi whose outrageous conduct has caused so much trauma and emotional distress."
Jennifer Gardner testified, "I chose a public life." "My three children are private citizens. I love my kids. They're beautiful and sweet and innocent, and I don't want a gang of shouting, arguing, lawbreaking photographers who camp out everywhere we are all day, every day, to continue traumatizing my kids."
Other celebrity parents have spoken out about the treatment of their children. Among those angry and fighting back are Nicole Richie, Pink, Alyssa Milano, Sarah Jessica Parker, Salma Hayek, and Liv Tyler. Six year old Suri Cruise cried out, "Take a picture of my baby instead" but the photos continued even after the bodyguard ordered the photographers back. The picture of her crying and screaming circled the Internet as she was named a "spoiled brat" just for wanting to not have her picture taken. Who was the real "child" in that video?
Christina Applegate took to Twitter saying, "Taking pics of kids is sick! Just imagine for one second you having fun with ur kid in the park and a bunch of a holes start surrounding you and freaking ur kid out."
"I ask for the right to protect the privacy of (my) child," Penelope Cruz, born in Spain, said recently, according to USA Today. "I don't care if they take pictures of myself. Children's privacy should be respected. It should be illegal to publish pictures of children, unless it's the decision of parents."
USA Today also quotes Ken Sunshine, who says "the behavior of some photographers has been contemptible. I always say, 'Have thee no shame?' It's another level of depravity when the children of celebrities who don't want them photographed get harassed. They embarrass or scare the kids to get them to cry — because it's a better photo."
Hopefully some of these instances of excessive and inexcusable behavior will be curtailed. Now, in the event of targeting and harassing a child for photographs because of who their parents persistent photographers are in danger of up to a year in jail instead of the previous maximum six months, and be fined $10,000 for their first violation, $20,000 for their second and up to $30,000 for their third, according to this new California law.