By Jennifer Armstrong
March 09, 2009 at 12:00 PM EDT

Last week, as Chris Brown was charged with felony assault and making criminal threats in connection with the beating of his pop singer girlfriend, Rihanna, young fans started voting on whether to name him their Favorite Male Singer or his song, “Kiss Kiss,” their Favorite Song in Nickelodeon’s annual Kids’ Choice Awards. The tween-centric cable channel — like so many celebs asked about the Grammy Night altercation — is staying out of the fray and leaving it up to kid voters to decide whether Brown takes home an orange blimp statue (yes, that’s what they are) on March 28. “Like all our KCA nominees, Chris Brown was nominated by kids several months ago based on his body of work as a performer,” Nick execs said in a statement, “and the kids who vote will ultimately decide who wins in the category.” Adding to the discomfort: Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music” is also up for best song.

It’s no surprise that Brown snagged the noms to begin with. The 19-year-old singer has been a favorite of youthful audiences since his first album three years ago. (He even appeared in an undeniably adorable Sesame Street segment with Elmo.) And the controversy puts Nick in a tough spot, since Brown hasn’t been convicted. Would they take him out of the running if he were convicted? Probably. But still, could his spot be used for a better role model at this point? Yes. As it is, though, I’d venture to guess that Brown won’t be taking home a blimp — kids likely know enough not to support him, as they’re on the computer more than you are, and they know their Us Weekly, for better or worse. Meanwhile, it might be cool if Brown’s PR team laid off the active campaigning on his MySpace page. He’s the one who really needs to face up to the seriousness of what’s at stake, whether or not he’s been tried yet.

What do you think? Should Nickelodeon kick Chris Brown off the Kids’ Choice ballot? Or does he deserve a chance like everyone else?

addCredit(“Mark Mann”)