Alison Arngrim insists more work needs to be done to protect child actors from potential predators.
“We need to go further, we need to make it really, really easy for kids to have a place to report stuff because sadly there is a high incidence of sexual abuse in the industry,” the former child star told Fox News.
Arngrim, who found fame as bratty Nellie Oleson on the western drama “Little House on the Prairie,” was sexually abused starting at the age of six by a family member.
However, the now 55-year-old wouldn’t open up until her 40s, when she first made the shocking confession to Larry King in 2004.
Then in 2010, Arngrim published her memoir titled “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch,” where she got candid about her experience in the hopes it will encourage other victims to speak up.
Arngrim is currently the president of the National Association to Protect Children Governing board.
Arngrim said that while things have gotten better in Hollywood over the years, parents of aspiring actors still need to be aware of the dangers that exist in the industry.
“You have people who are looking for places where children might be unattended,” she explained. “And they’ll go, ‘Gee, I can become a manager or a casting director or just do something that involves kids and show business.’ Their parents may not be thinking clearly. Instead, they’ll go, ‘Wow, this person is going to make my child a star!’ This gives a lot of predators access to kids and they know it. There is a danger there.”
Becoming “nasty Nellie” proved to be therapeutic for Arngrim. She previously told Fox News that being bad onscreen helped her cope with the sexual abuse she faced as a child.
“There’s one episode where I’m screaming, trashing the kitchen, and getting flour everywhere,” she recalled. “I just remember raising my fists and screaming. I looked back at it and went, ‘Yep, I was very relaxed after that day … ’ it helped me get a lot of things out of my system.”
Arngrim also revealed how other child stars could face abuse closer to home.
“There are also high incidences of parents who don’t have their children’s best interest at heart,” she said. “Someone who pushes a kid to work while they steal the money — those same kinds of parents are unfortunately the ones that could sexually abuse them … but there are so many more resources now.
"Back in my day, there wasn’t a sexual harassment hotline. There was a safety hotline if you’re doing dangerous things [on set]. But now there are multiple hotlines, including one through the union where you can call and report if you’re being sexually harassed. This didn’t exist in my time.”
Arngrim is hoping more work will be done to help other young victims in need.
“I’d like to see really close supervision on set,” she said. “They’re supposed to be there. On ‘Little House’ it was there … but it’s not always there today and I’d like to see more of that.
"There are many parents who work and can’t take their children to the set so they’ll have a trusted relative. But you know, sometimes they’ll just get a friend, or the friend of a friend. Or they’ll hire someone as some sort of babysitter. They’re supposed to be a guardian, but they’re not guarding anything.”