March 10, 2009— -- Chris Brown may have lost endorsement deals for Wrigley's gum and the Milk campaign following his arrest in the alleged beating of girlfriend Rihanna. But the children's network Nickelodeon is standing by him.
Despite growing outrage on parent blogs and entertainment Web sites and an online petition to have Brown removed from contention, his name will remain on the ballot for the popular Kids' Choice Awards, which airs March 28 on Nickelodeon.
"Like all our KCA nominees, Chris Brown was nominated by kids several months ago based on his work as a performer, and the kids who vote will ultimately decide who wins in the category," Nickelodeon said in a statement sent to ABCNews.com.
The show is geared toward kids ages 6 to 14. Kids can vote up until the show's airdate. This year's vote is expected to top last year's of 89 million, the network's publicist Marianne Romano said.
Romano said she does not know whether Brown will attend the show, where the winners are routinely covered in green slime. But Brown was apparently lobbying for votes. According to Us Weekly, the day Brown was charged with two felonies, he posted a MySpace blog asking fans to vote for him. "Vote for Chris on the Kids' Choice Awards 2009, Thank you for your support," it read.
Psychologist Cara Gardenswartz, an expert for Momlogic.com, questioned Nickelodeon's decision to keep Brown on the ballot.
"Nickelodeon is an adult-run network that is saying we are letting the kids decide. They are saying we don't need adults to step in and say that this is inappropriate," Gardenswartz said. "It's setting a horrible precedent and it's damaging. Kids can't differentiate between (Brown's) actions and his songs."
Brown, who faces felony charges for battery and making criminal threats that would result in death, is up for two Kids' Choice Awards: favorite male singer and favorite song for "Kiss Kiss."
Rihanna, who has reportedly reunited with Brown, is also up for two awards, favorite female singer and favorite song for "Don't Stop the Music."
Some Parents Petition to Get Chris Brown Off Ballot
A petition posted on the twittermoms.com Web site that has already garnered 70 signatures asks that both performers be removed from the Kids' Choice ballot -- Brown because of the charges he's facing and Rihanna because she "refused a no-contact order and plans to continue the relationship in spite of a violent attack by Brown."
"To say that either of these people [is] setting a suitable example to be held up as 'winners' is preposterous," the petition reads.
Oprah Winfrey also had stern words for Rihanna.
"You need somebody to tell you the truth in this moment. And the truth is, guys, both Chris Brown and Rihanna, if I were your friend, I would call you up and I would say, 'Give it some time, get yourself some counseling, take care of yourself, heal yourself first,'" the talk show queen said during a roundtable discussion on her talk show Friday.
"And also, 'love doesn't hurt.' I've been saying this to women for years -- love doesn't hurt," she said. "And if a man hits you once, he will hit you again. He will hit you again. I don't care what his plea is, he will hit you again."
According to The Associated Press, Winfrey will dedicate her show Thursday to the subject of dating violence.
A report by TMZ said Brown would agree to take a plea if he can get a misdemeanor and no jail time. The site quotes a source saying that Brown's defense team believes he shouldn't be charged with a felony because Rihanna hit him first and struck him "numerous times."
Brown's attorney Mark Geragos did not return phone calls.
Rihanna's attorney Donald Etra told ABCNews.com, "Today is not the time to comment on the details of the case."
Brown, meanwhile, has drawn the ire of most parents.
Jennifer Perillo, a blogger for NYCMomsBlog.com, joined the petition and is rethinking whether her 5-year-old daughter should continue watching Noggin, Nickelodeon's preschool channel.
"For a channel to be all about children, that's supposed to be reinforcing positive image, to have someone like that and leave him on the ballot for what I perceive as ratings, it's disheartening," the New York mom said. "They should err on the side of caution and sensitivity. He shouldn't be promoted in any way toward children."
Should Kids Make the Call on Brown?
Not every parent thinks Nickelodeon is making a mistake.
Lynn Wilson, a contributor for PhillyMomsBlog.com, said in an e-mail to ABCNews.com: "Personally, I am disgusted by Brown's alleged conduct. If I could operate on feelings alone, I'd kick him off the ballot. However, I think our Founding Fathers were absolutely correct about the wisdom of making decisions based on fact and intellect (innocent until proven guilty), so I believe that Nickelodeon made the right choice to keep Brown's name on the ballot."
Ilina Ewen, who was physically abused by a boyfriend when she was 14, sees the situation as a missed opportunity.
"I think they could have used it as a teaching opportunity to stand up against something," said the Raleigh mom who wrote about it for DeepSouthMoms.com. "To me it feels like they don't care, they can't see the gravity."
Amy Oztan, who also writes for NYCMomsBlog.com, said she will use the occasion to talk to her 7-year-old son Jake, who is a fan of both Brown and the Kids' Choice Awards, about what Brown is accused of.
"If Chris Brown's name remains on the ballot, I'm going to tell my son what he did and why he shouldn't win," Oztan said. "I wasn't going to tell him otherwise -- he's not that into music, so I wasn't worried about it. But Nick is throwing it in kids' faces.
"For kids, giving a person an award is an endorsement of the person, not just the performance. Kids often don't know the difference yet," Oztan said.
Los Angeles mom Jessica Gottlieb will block her 10-year-old daughter Jane and 7-year-old son Alexander from voting and watching the program this year.
"If a discussion comes up, it will be, 'Wow he's a bad guy,'" said Gottlieb, who writes for LAMomsBlog.com. "It's not about whether he's talented, but about whether or not he belongs in prison."
Gardenswartz believes no kid under 12 should watch the show as long as Brown is a part of it. For older children, she believes parents should have a discussion with them beforehand about what a healthy relationship looks like and what to do if they find themselves in an abusive one.
The question of whether Rihanna should remain on the ballot is more complicated.
"I think that she is using very, very poor judgment but she has not committed a crime," Gardenswartz said. "She is the victim and a sad victim, but it's more complicated. With her, it should be turned into a conversation about why people stay in an abusive situation."