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Health & Parenting

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


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 all?

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 from harm.

"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."

Vital Information:

  • A survey of 74 animated, G-rated movies showed that all of them contained at least one act of violence.
  • Researchers say that G ratings may be providing a false sense of security for parents.
  • Parents may want to consider pre-screening or co-viewing these movies, or they can check out web sites, such as "Screen It" (, that monitor movie content.
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