(Fox) – Kate Gosselin’s brother and sister-in-law blasted the reality star and her husband last week for messing with their kids’ heads just to score ratings.
“They’re being exploited” Jodi Kreider, said on CBS’s The Early Show.
“And it’s time for America to see the situation for what it really is, which is, unfortunately, there are no laws protecting children in reality-TV shows.”
The kids are tired of having their every tear, tantrum and tickle televised, she said.
“They would say, ‘Aunt Jodi, I don’t like the cameras on every vacation with us. I don’t like them,’ ” she said. “Kids have bad times, bad moments – they cry, and having the camera zoom in on a crying child . . . This should not be a form of entertainment.”
Kate’s brother, Kevin Kreider, added, “I think we’re speaking out now because we want to be the voice of our nieces and nephews.
“And we’re seeing it turn the tide that [the children] are being viewed as a commodity.”
Kate and husband Jon Gosselin, the stars of TLC’s Jon & Kate Plus 8, have made tabloid headlines for suspected philandering on both their parts – he with a young schoolteacher, she with her bodyguard.
Both have denied they’ve cheated on each other.
Regardless, the whiff of scandal surrounding the previously little-known reality stars – whose show chronicles the adventures of their super-sized family – garnered last Monday’s fifth-season premiere 10 million viewers.
That’s almost the same number Sex and the City drummed up for its series finale five years ago.
Unfortunately for the Gosselins – including one set of 8-year-old twins and the 5-year-old sextuplets – the twists and turns in their storylines are all too real.
Kate’s brother and sister-in-law both told the The Early Show that they’ve broached the subject of the children’s well-being many times with the Gosselin parents, but to no avail.
“They have often said, ‘Hey, you know, this is kind of our lives, this is what we chose, this is how we’re going to provide for them,’ ” Kevin said.
“And we feel that they have chosen this path with disregard to their children’s safety.”
The Kreiders also blame TLC.
“Unfortunately, I think it has come down to all about the ratings,” said Jodi. “And no one is looking at these children, at what they are going through, and the life consequences they are going to have as they get older.”
In a statement yesterday, TLC said the show will go on as long “as the interest continues, and the family wants to do it.”
“The show’s ratings have grown consistently, as there has been interest in these real-life issues of this real-life family,” TLC said.
But forcing kids to live their lives in front of the TV camera may be tantamount to child abuse, said Michael Brody, the media chairman of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
“Look at what has happened to all these child stars,” said Brody, who has not treated any of the Gosselin kids. “Most of these people are in rehab or they’re involved in child abuse – it’s horrendous.”
One former child star said no one should have to endure cameras peering into their personal life.
“The entertainment business is vast and powerful,” said Paul Petersen, who played son Jeff on The Donna Reed Show in the 1960’s and who, as an adult, founded the kid-star advocacy group A Minor Consideration.
“Somebody has to stand up to them and say, ‘You can’t do this to children anymore.’ “
In addition to Jon & Kate, other reality TV shows revolve around real-life families, including Tori Spelling’s cringe-fest, Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood, and the Discovery Channel’s Table for 12.
Nadya Suleman – the unemployed California mother of six who gave birth to eight more babies in January and was dubbed Octo-Mom – has said she will do a documentary about her brood.
Meanwhile, the embattled stars of Jon & Katehave all but conceded they’re headed for divorce.
But Dr. David Baron, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Temple University’s School of Medicine, says that if the Pennsylvania couple does split, they were probably a bad fit from the start.
And, he adds, don’t blame TV. “Sure that’s a stress, but if you’re in a good, loving relationship, no one factor should turn you 180 degrees,” he said.
“All a single event or set of conditions can do is bring light to stresses in a relationship that have always been there.”
Jon and Kate Gosselin. Photo:AP