Violence shown in films suitable for teens ‘not linked to violence in society’

An audience watches the world premier of Alan Gilsenan's film, 'Timbuktu', which opened the Jameson Dublin International Film
An audience watches the world premier of Alan Gilsenan's film, 'Timbuktu', which opened the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival at the Savoy cinema, Dublin, Ireland. The festival will screen 97 feature films from 35 countries over 11 days from February 12 to 22 at the Screen Cinema, UGC and the Irish Film Institute.

There is no relation between violence shown in films suitable for teenagers and violence in society, a study has suggested.

Research carried out in the US on PG-13 rated films – similar to the UK’s 12A rating – analysed the trends portrayed in such material against real cases of violence, including murder and youth violence.

“Our analysis of data on violent crime and depictions of violence in PG-13 rated movies shows no evidence of a public health concern,” said Christopher Ferguson, from Stetson University, who co-authored the paper in the Psychiatric Quarterly journal.

“Thus, the ‘low hanging fruit’ argument that suggests parents should reduce their children’s exposure to violent movies as a simple way of reducing exposure to risk factors for crime, may cause more harm than good.

“It may distract from the hard work of dealing with real pressing problems by focusing society, parents and policy makers in an illusory simple fix.”

The study used data from a range of sources, including the FBI, taken between 1985 and 2015.

Ferguson and co-author Patrick Markey found that while movies tend to become more violent over time, the rate of violence and murder in society fell, even with variables such as poverty, education, or economic inequality factored in.

“Evidence suggests that violent and antisocial behaviour result from a complicated interaction of numerous factors but media violence does not appear to be one of these factors,” Markey said.

“This may be because individuals perceive media exposure differently than they do real-life exposure to violence.”

The research comes after the British Board Of Film Classification (BBFC) issued new guidelines in response to public concerns about sex on screen.

It found that sexual violence and depictions of “credible real-life scenarios” were increasingly worrying for audiences, particularly younger viewers.

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