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Health & Parenting

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Children's Movies May Be More Violent Than G Rating Implies


What they found in A Bug's Life, for example, was that "the bad character Hopper, in various scenes, intimidates his own group of thugs by slapping them around and menacing the ant colony in various ways," Yokota tells WebMD. "There are several chase scenes. And when Hopper does get killed, there's a fairly dramatic scene where a bird munches him up. ? There is physical force. And there was a lot of slapstick, pushing each other around, even among the good guys."

While violence in kids' movies has been discussed at length, it has been given little scientific scrutiny, Yokota says.

"We found that there's at least one act of violence in all of these films, which was surprising," Yokota tells WebMD. "There was also a huge range in amount. The film with the least amount of violence had six seconds, whereas the film with the most had 24 minutes. But overall, the average was 9.5 minutes per film."

Least violent was My Neighbor Toroto, a 1993 release that was very popular in Japan, Yokota says. It was translated into English and released only in video format in America.

Yokota hopes the study's findings will prompt parents to talk to children about how they perceive on-screen violence.

"We're not trying to make a value judgment on what violence means and how kids might interpret it, but ? there's a message there that when good guys are doing these things, it's kind of funny and not as serious, but when bad guys do it, it's bad and sinister," Yokota tells WebMD. "That's not always the case, but seems to be the general trend.

"Parents should consider co-viewing so that when violent scenes come up, they can talk to children about those scenes ? understand what's going on in the child's head, see how they're interpreting it."

Several web sites provide parents with reviews of recent releases. For example, the web site called "Screen It" provides detailed lists of every kind of objectionable material in movies, from language to sexual content to alcohol and drug use, in addition to violence, Yokota says.

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