Children's Movies May Be More Violent Than G Rating Implies
WebMD News Archive
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.
But is aggression always bad? When Simba in The Lion King does
nothing to prevent hyenas from killing his uncle, is there a lesson for us
These movies are full of valuable life lessons, including how to fend off
bullies, Jon A. Shaw, MD, chief of adolescent and child psychiatry at the
University of Miami School of Medicine, tells WebMD. Most humans and animals,
he says, use aggression to defend themselves, their family, or their territory
"Clearly, bullies use violence in inappropriate ways. I think that's
what the author is concerned about," Shaw tells WebMD. "But children
have to learn to protect themselves against violent attacks by others. ? We
know from studies of bullies that children most likely to be bullied are very
shy, anxious, and timid and usually wear a sign that says 'If you hit me, I
will not retaliate.' These films, in a culturally sensitive way, are trying to
teach children how to handle situations.
"I would be less concerned with G-rated films than some of the R-rated
films, where there clearly is excessive exposure to coercive violence, sexual
violence, in a context where people are really given free license to express
aggression, and violence independent of cultural values."