Australian celebrities are calling in psychologists to help their children cope with being in the spotlight.
Well-known child and adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said he has had an influx of celebrity clients seeking advice for their struggling children.
Whether they're picked on in the playground, trolled on social media, stalked by photographers or vilified in the media, celebrity children being bullied is an “ongoing issue”, according to Dr Carr-Gregg.
Journalist-turned-children's author Cassandra Thorburn, who endured a very public divorce from TV host Karl Stefanovic, described in a candid Facebook post on Friday the unwanted media attention she and the couple’s three children received.
“The loves of your life who you have spent half your life protecting from the dangers you could see and the worst you could think of that would cause them pain or put them in danger,” she wrote.
“Your teenage children’s friends see [the stories] online, your children see them. They are questioned about them by their peers."
Celebrity accountant Anthony Bell and his TV host wife Kelly Landry had a very public court battle in 2017 after Landry made an application for an apprehended violence order against her husband that was subsequently dismissed. The pair subsequently reconciled and escaped Sydney’s eastern suburbs for Noosa after their daughters caught wind of rumours at school.
"The kids were becoming the target of playground gossip and it began to take a toll on them, which was the motivation for the move," one of Bell's associates said.
Like the Bell children, Roxy Jacencko’s daughter, Pixie, also fell victim to playground gossip, when her dad, Oliver Curtis, was sent to jail for a year in 2016 for insider trading.
“Parents were clearly speaking about our situation and doing so in front of their children, Pixie’s fellow students, which made her time in school very challenging for her,” Ms Jacenko said.
“One minute she was told her dad broke out of jail, and the next that her dad was a very bad person – not something you want any child to hear, especially when they are so impressionable and it's their father.”
Mr Carr-Gregg said children bully other kids they perceive to be different.
“If one or both of your parents are ‘famous’, that makes you different,” he said, revealing his own children had been trolled over their father’s media career.
“Tall poppy syndrome is alive and well in this country and kids tend to repeat what they hear at home to their friends at school,” he said. “Schools have a legal duty of care when it comes to bullying, whether they’re the child of a celebrity or not.”
Sally Inglis, the estranged wife of former South Sydney Rabbitohs star Greg Inglis, recently took to Instagram to share some of the racist abuse she received after posting a photo of her five-year-old son Nate on his birthday.
“I considered not posting this but my babies deserve better,” she said at the time, alongside a screen grab of one of the comments she received on the photo. “They are proud of who they are and have every right to be.”
Ben McDonald, CEO of photo agency Matrix Media, said photographers tread a fine line when it comes to capturing images of celebrity offspring.
“I can appreciate that emotions run high when it comes to protecting one's child irrespective of your particular view on the rights and wrongs of the media interest, some will always consider it an intrusion and others are happy for the exposure,” he said.
“It should be remembered that paps [paparazzi] are only feeding the demand. If there were no interested readers poring over the latest shots of little Prince George in his Sunday best, then we would likely be focusing our time and energy on other subjects.”
Unlike some children with celebrity parents, Christian Wilkins, son of Today Show host Richard, says he’s has managed to avoid unwanted scrutiny for much of his life.
“Dad’s been on TV my whole life so, to be honest, I’ve never really known anything different – at the end of the day, as amazing as I think he is, he isn’t Brad Pitt, my childhood wasn’t filled with constantly dodging paps and getting mugged by fans,” he said.
"I was never particularly bullied by kids for my dad's job, I remember when Hilary Duff came to Australia and Dad got to meet her and I was the envy of every kid in my year," he said.
"Seeing something negative about someone you love especially from people who don’t know him is obviously difficult."
The young model and fashion-forward dresser is the only Wilkins child to follow in his father's footsteps, but he said the media had largely left his siblings alone.