Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teens Sneaking into R-Rated Movies

Source: Connect with Kids

“I certainly think parents are misled many time by their youngsters.”

– Betsy Gard, Ph.D., Psychologist

Young teens say it is easy to get into R-rated movies.

“Yea, [I] just snuck in,” admits 14-year-old Nik.

“Me and my friends, we always sneak into R-rated movies,” says 14-year-old Rebecca.

Usually no one tries to stop them, but if they do, kids know the secret.

“I got a ticket to a different movie and then I went into the other one five minutes after the movie starts,” said 13-year-old Chantelle Williams.

“There was a huge group of people, and I just got in the middle and we all huddled through,” explains 13-year-old Travis.

Experts worry, saying movies are uniquely engaging. For two hours, kids are held captive in the reality of that movie. That means the R-rated sex and violence have more power than television or video games to change how they think or even act.

“You are really engaged in that movie. You are sort of there,” says Dr. Betsy Gard, psychologist. “Therefore it’s going to have more of an impact.”

“I don’t know because we might think that’s cool and stuff, I don’t know, and start doing that kind of stuff,” says Rebecca.

Gard recommends if you find out your child has seen a movie against your wishes, first see the movie yourself so you can talk to your youngster about why you did not like the movie and why it is not good for them.

“You basically say ‘for a while now you’re not going to be able to go to the movies independently or to the mall’,” says Gard. “I’m going to have to supervise you more carefully so that I can build the trust back in you.”

Tips for Parents

Teens sneak into movies using a variety of different methods. Some create or buy fake IDs, others try to bribe the ticket box office worker (usually a school friend) while others purchase tickets for a G-rated movie, enter the theater and then sneak into the R-rated film of their choice. Often, these schemes work. If they do not, there are no repercussions because there are no laws that punish either teens or theaters. In fact, theaters are under no legal obligation at all to enforce the rating system.

Teens do not have to work very hard to see R-rated movies. Parents or older friends often purchase the tickets for them. So what is the point of this rating system and why was it created in the first place?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences created the ratings system in 1968 as a guide for parents and moviegoers. The system is sponsored by the Motion Picture Association of America and the National Association of Theater Owners to provide parents with advanced information on the films. This allows parents to make informed decisions on whether their child is capable of handling the film.

The movie ratings are decided by parents, part of a committee called the film rating board of the Classification and Rating Administration (CARA). As a group, they view each film and after a group discussion vote on its rating, making an educated estimate as to the rating most American parents would consider the most appropriate. In making their decision, the film board looks at certain criteria such as:

Movie theme
Drug use
Understanding what the ratings mean can help you determine whether you child should view a specific movie. CARA provides the following explanations for each rating:

G-Rating. General Audience. All ages admitted. This signifies the film rated contains nothing most parents will consider offensive for even their youngest children to see or hear. Nudity, sex scenes and scenes of drug use are absent; violence is minimal; snippets of dialogue may go beyond polite conversation but do not go beyond common everyday expressions.
PG-Rating. Parental Guidance Suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. This signifies the film rated may contain some material parents might not like to expose to their young children, material that will clearly need to be examined or inquired about before children are allowed to attend the film. Explicit sex scenes and scenes of drug use are absent; nudity, if present, is seen only briefly. Horror and violence do not exceed moderate levels.
PG-13 Rating. Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. This signifies the film rated may be inappropriate for pre-teens. Parents should be especially careful about letting their younger children attend. Rough or persistent violence is absent; sexually-oriented nudity is generally absent; some scenes of drug use may be seen; one use of the harsher sexually derived words may be heard.
R-Rating. Restricted-Under 17. Requires accompanying parent or adult guardian (age varies in some locations). This signifies the rating board has concluded the film rated contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their children to see it. An R may be assigned due to, among other things, a film's use of language, theme, violence, sex or its portrayal of drug use.
NC–17 Rating. No One 17 and Under Admitted. This signifies the rating board believes most American parents would feel the film is patently adult and that children age 17 and under should not be admitted to it. The film may contain explicit sex scenes, an accumulation of sexually-oriented language, or scenes of excessive violence. The NC-17 designation does not, however, signify the rated film is obscene or pornographic.
Before allowing your teen to head off to the movies for a night out, it is important you find out as much information as you can about the movie first. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests:

Read reviews. Look in the newspaper for a review on the movie
Check the Internet. You can often find sites dedicated to the movie. This will provide you with a little more information on the movie content.
Talk to friends who have seen it. Often the best way to determine if the movie is appropriate is to ask someone who has seen it.
Choose carefully when considering movies with PG-13, PG, or even G ratings. Remember a PG movie that contains some violence or nudity will have a much different effect on a five-year-old child than it would a 12-year-old.
If you are still not sure. See the movie yourself first. You are the best judge as to whether this is appropriate for your child.
American Academy of Pediatrics
Classification and Ratings Administration
Dartmouth School of Medicine
Motion Picture Association of America