Nickelodeon Makes the Wrong Choice on Chris Brown

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Nickelodeon may be aimed at children, but the network is unfairly asking its young audience to deal with some serious adult issues by keeping Chris Brown in the running for a couple of “Kids’ Choice Awards.”

The singer is nominated for favorite male singer and favorite song – a category in which he faces competition from his girlfriend Rihanna, whom he is charged with assaulting.

Nickelodeon’s reported line is that Brown should be judged on his performing career, and it will be up to the kids to decide whether he walks away with any orange dirigible trophies on March 28.

That’s a sorry cop out, and it sends the wrong message to children about domestic violence – acting like everything’s all right on a fun, laugh-filled TV show doesn’t negate what happened to Rihanna.

Let’s be clear: Brown is innocent until proven guilty. But the charges are serious enough to warrant a timeout on the kiddie award front until Brown has his day in court.

The case has sparked a new, post-O.J. national debate on domestic violence -- Oprah Winfrey is dedicating her Thursday show to Rihanna and the topic. The incident also has unleashed a month-long storm of headlines, tabloid and otherwise, trumpeting that disturbing photo of Rihanna, sordid details of the couple's rocky relationship and reported plans for a duet by the star-crossed pair.

There are enough mixed messages flying out there, without some potentially manufactured, ratings-friendly moment featuring an abuse victim reuniting with her alleged attacker playing out on show aimed at the impressionable tween set. Let’s hope that Brown, who hasn’t shown much grace so far, displays an iota of class and skips the ceremony.

Nickelodeon, meanwhile, still has plenty of time to reverse itself and do the right thing. The network should be entertaining kids – not sliming them.

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.

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