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Many Kids Under 15 Watch Violent Movies
Date:8/4/2008

In some cases, parents encourage the habit, U.S. survey shows

MONDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- A large proportion of American adolescents are getting early and regular exposure to violent movies, a new survey reveals.

The poll suggests that almost 13 percent of the nation's estimated 22 million children between the ages of 10 and 14 are viewing extremely graphic depictions of violence in film, whether in theaters, on DVDs, or on television.

"There's a lot of evidence to support the idea that when kids watch violent media, they become more aggressive," observed study co-author Dr. James D. Sargent, a professor in the department of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H. "And yet 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 way movies are being distributed and seen today."

"But also, parents need to be much more careful about how their children consume violent media," he added.

Sargent's and his colleagues' findings are in the August issue of Pediatrics.

The Dartmouth researcher pointed out that the advent of DVDs has meant that new and even more violent versions of R-rated theatrical releases often become available now in completely un-rated forms. These DVD versions may reach a much larger group of children than in prior years, when such movies could only be seen in a theater.

Another problem, he added, stems from the relatively liberal ratings policy currently in force in the United States -- one that allows non-adult viewing of R-rated theatrical releases when a child is in the presence of an adult escort. According to the researchers, this type of practice is prohibited in Britain and in some other European nations.

"And, in any case, the American movie industry rates itself," added Sargent
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