By Jenna Murphy
HANOVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE, August 12, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A newly released study by Dartmouth College experts reveals that movie ratings are ineffective when it comes to barring minors from R-rated (18+) films.
Dartmouth researchers found that approximately 22 million of America’s young people between the ages of 10 and 14 (12.5%) have viewed one or more restricted films. The most alarming numbers were recorded for the film Scary Movie with an estimated 48% (10 million) of this same age group having viewed the film despite the ‘restricted’ rating.
The online, family-friendly film reviewing site, Screenit.com, gives "Scary Movie" an "extreme" rating (the highest possible) for sexuality, violence and profanity.
"Our data reveal a disturbingly high rate of exposure among 10-14 year olds nationally to extremely violent movies," says Keilah Worth, the keynote author of the study and post-doctoral fellow at Dartmouth Medical School and at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center. "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."
It is no secret that exposure to violence as entertainment leads to eventual desensitization. In a joint statement, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry confirmed that violence in television, in music, in video games and in movies increases violence among children. "Its effects are measurable and long-lasting," the four groups say in a statement. "Moreover, prolonged viewing of media violence can lead to emotional desensitization toward violence in real life."
Dartmouth Researchers were able to pinpoint that Black youth from families with a lower socioeconomic status were most at risk for early exposure to R-rated films.
"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," says James Sargent, the senior scientist on this study and a professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School.
"We should re-think the current movie rating system, which has been in place for 40 years, and was designed when kids could only see movies in theaters. Ratings need to be more prominent on all movies, whether they are seen in theaters or purchased in the store, and we need clearer messages to parents. Pediatricians and child advocates should instruct parents to strictly abide by the movie-age guidelines and to closely monitor movie viewing."
To read Dartmouth Study Press Release:
To Read Joint Statement on negative effects of Violence in Media by American Health Professionals: