Monday, September 08, 2008

An R-Rated Childhood

(HT: FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)

About 12.5 percent of America's 22 million children between the ages of 10 and 14 have seen movies rated R for extreme violence, according to a paper published in the August 2008 issue of Pediatrics. In 2003, Dartmouth Medical School researchers asked 6,522 children whether they'd seen 40 of the most recent graphically violent films, such as Blade, Training Day, Hollow Man and Bride of Chucky. Scary Movie was the film 10- to 14-year-olds were most likely to have seen, with about 48 percent having watched it. (Researchers didn't ask whether they had seen the movies in theaters, on video, cable TV or the Internet.) The study found that boys, minorities, those from lower-income families and those with lower academic performance were more likely to have seen ultraviolent R-rated fare. About one in three respondents reported that their parents let them watch R-rated movies. But even among those whose parents prohibited R-rated movie viewing, 22.6 percent had seen at least one of the movies on the list. Researchers also found that kids who had TVs in their bedrooms were more likely to have seen these R-rated titles.

Two of the Dartmouth study's authors, Keilah Worth and James Sargent, sounded the alarm with regard to their findings. "We know so much about the harmful effects of exposure to violent media content, but how much exposure children actually get has been largely ignored," Worth said. Sargent added, "No expert in child development would advocate for subjecting children as young as 10 to this level of violence, yet the study shows that such exposure is commonplace in this country." Why? According to Sargent, "The American movie industry rates itself. So how and why some movies get an R rating, while others don't, isn't always rational. Because it's like the fox watching the chicken coop, and the industry is not going to do anything that limits it from getting as wide an audience as possible." On that basis, both researchers called for an overhaul of the ratings system. "In Britain, no adolescent would be admitted to these movies unless they were 18. The R rating in this country is clearly not preventing our young people from seeing them," Worth noted. Sargent reiterated the need for ratings reform. "We should rethink the current movie rating system, which has been in place for 40 years and was designed when kids could only see movies in theaters," he said. "Violent media has become easier and easier to access for children. So, for the movie industry, the message is that the 1960s ratings system needs to be updated and made more explicit and relevant to the ways movies are being distributed and seen today."

In 2007, the Federal Trade Commission released a report that showed about 40 percent of 13- to 16-year-olds were able to purchase tickets for R-rated movies. By comparison, nearly 80 percent successfully purchased DVDs of similar films. [taken directly from]

No comments: