As Lindsay Lohan continues to circle the drain, and Amanda Bynes tweets her apparent breakdown on an hourly basis, former child star Mara Wilson offers an insider's perspective on why so many child actors lose it in the end.
Wilson, who starred in "Matilda," "Mrs. Doubtfire," and "Miracle on 34th Street," writes in an article for the humor website, Cracked, that there are seven reasons why "not many child stars make it out of Hollywood alive or sane."
Not surprisingly, parents have much to do with it. According to Wilson, it was always her decision to start acting professionally and her parents actually discouraged her from it in the first place. The 25-year-old explains she saw many child actors who were pushed into acting as a means of supporting their families. As she explains, there is a law in place to try to prevent greedy parents from embezzling their child's money.
Wilson also writes that it's the adult nature of Hollywood that sometimes prevents even the best parents from being able to protect their child from the industry, and recalled being asked an inappropriate question by a reporter while on the red carpet for the film "Nine Months":
"My father called the station the next day to suggest that they, you know, not talk to a child about soliciting sex. But he was rebuffed, and the complaint was ignored. Even then, as a kid, I knew that parental power was gone."
And since Hollywood is an adult industry, it means children are often exposed to more opportunities for exploitation and abuse. Wilson lists Corey Feldman, Corey Haim, and Todd Bridges as former child stars who went on record to claim they were sexually abused by adults in the industry when they were young.
Wilson admits that she wasn't immune to sexual exploitation thanks to creeps on the Internet:
"When I was 12 years old, I made the mistake of looking myself up on the Internet ... One of the things I found was a foot fetish website dedicated to child actresses. Now, at the time, I thought this was hilarious ... Then, two or three years ago, I was talking to a friend and casually mentioned the foot fetish thing. Her eyes went wide. 'So, basically, you were on a child porn site?'"
Wilson, who wrote a lengthy blog post last year about why she decided to quit acting, also cites the fact that many child stars find themselves wanting to rebel in ways that would be detrimental to their careers. The prevalence of social media means everything these young actors do is documented, and even now, Wilson says she ducks out of the way at parties when someone whips out a camera, despite the fact her parties tend to be "less 'coke orgy,' more 'board game bonanza.'"
And while Wilson went on to graduate from NYU (which she notes has been called "Where Child Stars Come to Die"), she says that many young actors don't know what else to do except recite lines in front of a camera -- and even if they can't find work, they can't escape their past.
"I still get recognized. It's flattering, but it can be uncomfortable. Maybe because it only seems to happen when I'm looking and feeling crappy," she explained. "I can't take much pride in my childhood acting. It feels like it happened in another lifetime, and even then, it felt like a hobby."
As a survivor of child stardom, Wilson has a few words of wisdom for children who want to act.
"Make sure it's really your choice, get out of it when it stops being fun, and get an education," she writes, adding that "considering all the legal hassle child stars can be, I won't be surprised when they are phased out by CGI children voiced by adult actors."