Sex in movies concerns U.S. parents more than violence. Here's why

The Parents Ratings Advisory Study found 80 percent of parents asked are concerned with their kids seeing sex scenes compared to violent scenes (64 percent).
Dec 09, 2015

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  • A majority of parents asked in a survey commissioned by the Classification and Rating Administration said their kids seeing both sex scenes and graphic violence in movies concerns them — but that the former spurs the most worry.

  • Beth Greenfield wrote for Yahoo Parenting the survey indicated 80 percent of moms and dads cited "graphic sex scenes" as a primary concern in movies their kids watch, compared to 64 percent naming violence.

  • Why does sex trump violence in regards to things parents wish to keep their kids from seeing?

  • Most believe the likelihood of making unwise sex decisions is greater than committing violent acts, Belinda Luscombe wrote for Time.

  • Timing also plays a factor.

  • "The glamorization of sex, the appeal of which is used to burnish the allure of pretty much every product ever invented, is much harder to offset than that of violence," according to Time. "Partly, this is timing. Kids' interest in sex really ramps up at adolescence, just when parents feel, rightly or wrongly, their influence is waning."

  • Time's piece indicated watching sexual content around kids is simply more awkward for parents too, with the potential conversations that might arise.

  • And Time noted another potential explanation: the depiction of violence compared to sex in film.

  • "Then there's the fact that when people — at least bad guys — are shot in movies, they bleed and die, albeit quite briskly and without much agony," Time's report read. "… Very rarely are [characters having sex] depicted dealing with unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases or the vague feeling that they were just being used."

  • The bottom line: When watching movies, kids are more likely to understand the ills of violence compared to negatives of sexual activity.

  • Jonah Hicap wrote for Christian Today on CARA's intent with the survey; the organization hopes to evolve the movie rating system to "ensure that we are meeting our purpose to inform parents and doing the best job that we can on their behalf," CARA chairwoman Joan Graves said.

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  • Graves indicated parents rely on the rating system heavily when picking content for their families to watch, according to Christian Today.

  • That makes garnering feedback crucial.

  • "The members of the board are tasked with rating a film the way a majority of American parents from across the country would rate it," Christian Today quoted Graves as saying. "We provide information and guidance; we do not censor or give any kinds of judgment on a film's artistic quality."

  • Pamela McClintock wrote for The Hollywood Reporter that 99 percent of parents surveyed were familiar with the ratings system and 93 percent said "that movie ratings descriptors are helpful tools."

  • The Reporter noted other findings from the survey: Hard drug use in films concerns 70 percent of parents. In addition, 53 percent think PG-13 movies contain the F-word too much.

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Payton Davis is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.

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