As Evil Spreads, States Try to Halt Commercial Child Abuse | HumorOutcasts

As Evil Spreads, States Try to Halt Commercial Child Abuse

October 11, 2017

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.  It’s 1:30 a.m. in this western suburb of Boston known for a long strip of shopping centers called “The Golden Mile.”  The malls are closed now, but a late model American make car can be seen cruising the parking lots with its headlights out.

“I eat a lot of Tums, ’cause my stomach churns all the time.”

At the wheel is Detective Jim Hampy of the Massachusetts State Police, a member of the force’s Commercial Child Abuse Unit, on a stake-out.  “I don’t know how much longer I can take this beat,” he says wearily to this reporter.  “The things you see, I tell ya, it breaks your heart.”

He takes out a pair of night vision goggles and scans the sidewalk in front of a large furniture store, then stops when he sees two men lugging video equipment in a service entrance.  “I think we got ’em,” he says, and after checking his belt for his gun, his Taser and a can of pepper spray, he opens his car door and says “Let’s roll.”

We make our way cautiously across the lot and flatten ourselves against the building when we get there so as to reduce our profile in case there are “spotters” watching for law enforcement.  Hampy puts his ear to the door, hears the telltale cries that reveal the suffering within, and signals with a nod of his head that the moment of truth has arrived.  “Brace yourself,” he says.  “This is gonna turn your stomach.”

“Okay, now tell me how your daddy will beat any price around!”


He gently opens the door and we see a camera man setting up and a voice coach working with two children, the son and daughter of the store owner.  “We will NOT be undersold!” the girl chirps, and her brother seconds her by saying “That’s RIGHT!” with enthusiasm.

“Hold it right there,” Hampy shouts, catching the adults by surprise.  “By the power vested in me by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, you are hereby ordered to cease and desist from using your kids in a broadcast commercial!”

“I love my kids–they’re great for business.”


The owner is having makeup applied for his star turn but he bats aside the blusher brush to state his case.  “Really, it’s not a commercial, we’re making a home movie,” he says, but Hampy’s not buying it.

“I seen a lot of sick things in my day,” he snaps as the video crew grabs their gear and heads for the exit, “but using your own flesh and blood to announce a final clearance on sofas and sectionals is about as low as it goes.”

Hampy and law enforcement officials like him in other states are the leading edge of a nationwide movement to end the abuse of children in commercials, a segment of overall crime statistics that has grown dramatically in the past decade.  “Tire and battery stores are bad, as are car dealerships,” says Norton Bienstock, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University.  “But for sheer, unadulterated evil, I’d have to say furniture retailers are the worst.”

“At Suburban Community Bank, your trust is our biggest asset!”


Last year Massachusetts made the use of children in commercials by family-owned businesses a crime, following the lead of Minnesota, another state known for cockamamie ideas that eventually spread to the rest of the country.  “I put the collar on a GMC-Chevy dealer the other day and the guy was totally unrepentant,” says Sergeant Mike Twilhig of the Mankato, Minn. police force.  “I told him–‘Hey, if I wanted to watch movies of your kids, I’d bust into your home entertainment center.’”

“So instead of a football for you, daddy bought himself a watch that he’ll leave to you when he dies!”


Hampy reserves his greatest scorn for companies who use children to persuade adults to buy expensive gifts for themselves, such as designer wristwatches, on the grounds they will become an heirloom handed down for generations.  “Sometimes I hear the kids cry, and I start bawlin’ myself,” he says, an audible lump in his throat.  “They scream ‘But I don’t want Bordeaux futures, I want a football NOW!’”

Con Chapman

I'm a Boston-area writer, author of two novels (most recently "Making Partner"), a baseball book about the Red Sox and the Yankees ("The Year of the Gerbil"), ten published plays and 45 books of humor available in print and Kindle formats on My latest book "Scooter & Skipper Blow Things Up!" was released by HumorOutcasts Press last year. My humor has appeared in The Atlantic, The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe and Barron's, and I am working on a biography of Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington's long-time alto sax player for Oxford University Press .

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One Response to As Evil Spreads, States Try to Halt Commercial Child Abuse

  1. October 16, 2017 at 5:29 am

    Not to mention it takes jobs away from bad local actors.

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