Child modelling is a phenomenon that, according to Fox News, has been driven through the roof via the Internet and other easy-access mediums. However, due to the potentially exploitative nature of child modelling, a variety of laws are in place to help protect children while still giving them enough room to pursue work.
Child labour laws apply to child models, since they fall under "non-agricultural" employment laws. There are federal laws as well as state and local laws that state how often and how long children under the age of 18 can work. For instance, when school is in session, 14- and 15-year-olds can work a maximum of 15 hours per week, whereas 16- and 17-year-olds can work 20 hours per week. When school is not in session, these numbers rise to 30 hours per week and 40 hours per week for the respective age groups.
1977 Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation
The 1977 Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation law was put in place to protect children from child pornography. This law states that any portrayal of a child's genital or pubic area (clothed or nude) which is done with a lascivious intent constitutes child pornography. Under this law, there are a number of "modeling" jobs that would be considered illegal. It's a good idea to ask exactly what the modelling job entails before allowing your child to be hired for his talents and looks.
Child Modeling Exploitation Act of 2002
Because proving lascivious intent for photographs may be difficult, a law was passed in 2002 called the Child Modeling Exploitation Act. This law is meant to stop any depiction of a minor as a model when there isn't a definitive product or service that's being marketed with them as a model. This law was put in place to stop a number of "child modeling" websites that did nothing but post pictures of the models, and then charged fees for membership...much like certain pornographic websites do in order to earn webmasters an income.