Gun Violence on the Rise in PG-13 Movies


Friday, November 22, 2013

A new study published in Pediatrics argues that over the last 30 years, gun violence has tripled in the most popular PG-13 movies. The rating, which was created by the Motion Picture Association of America in the 1980s to establish a middle ground between “Parental Guidance Suggested” (PG) and “Restricted” (R) movies, cautions “some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.” Yet the study finds that since 2009, “PG-13 rated films have contained as much or more violence as R-Rated films.”

Read the study: “Gun Violence Trends in Movies”

“All these violent films, which in another era would have been rated ‘R,’ are now getting either a lenient ‘PG-13’ rating or a studio or director are going back and nipping and tucking,” Los Angeles Times reporter Steven Zeitchik tells Kurt Andersen. “The net effect is the same: there’s just a lot of violence in movies kids could see.”

Kurt notes that all entertainment media — including TV and videogames — seem to show an increase in violence. Zeitchik agrees, but wonders why the MPAA hasn’t budged an inch on other issues. “There doesn’t seem to be an evolving attitude on language, certainly on sex,” he tells Kurt. “It seems to be driven more by economics than a redefined moral standard.”

Are movies for kids and teens more violent than they used to be? Why? Post a Comment below.

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Steven Zeitchik

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Comments [5]

Liana from Bend, OR

I hardly rely on the MPAA rating when I want to determine if I allow my 11-year old daughter to see a movie (besides banning "R" and "NC-17" right off the bat). I check websites like and to read about the various elements of the movie, and make up my own mind. Additionally, we watch many independent films, which are not MPAA rated, so I either watch it myself first or contact the filmmaker to ask about the content.

Nov. 26 2013 11:06 AM

I find it hilarious that adults still think violence in movies and video games will lead to more violence in society.

If you look at the statistics, you'll see that as violence in art has become more commonplace, violence in society has gone down. Embracing the violent side of our nature stops the violent urges from building up and alleviates the natural inclination towards violent retribution.

The MPAA system isn't a system for protecting children. It's a way for people to control what we see and hear and experience and thus a way to control how we think.

If you want to do something for your children, something that will help them, teach them to embrace every side of themselves and to understand what so many adults obviously DON'T understand: that the problem isn't violent movies or video games, it's the attempt to silence a natural part of our existence.

Nov. 24 2013 12:54 PM
Heidi from New Jersey

I don't understand the need for such violence. My eleven year old want to see the new Hunger Games and we've said no. She hasn't read the books and only wants to go because her friend is going. My child is not prone to violent behavior at this time, and that is not the reason for me not wanting her to see the film. I am going to read the book only to try to understand the fascination with such a morose topic that is guided towards teens. I know that we tend to overprotect our preteens and teens, but once you are exposed to something violent it can't be taken back. It also starts to desensitize preteens and teens. Why do we need to add violence to an already violent society. I agreed with Mr. Zeitchik that we cannot connect murder rates to movies. However, there are many issues with bullying and now in our area there is a "game" where people are punched and knocked down by teens for no obvious reason. I remember seeing Lord of the Flies as a child on a black and white TV. I was traumatized by the story and at that time no one helped children process that kind of film violence. Do we need to spend more money helping kids to overcome violence when we can first reduce what their exposure. Also, It feels like greed has taken over parenting.

Nov. 24 2013 12:13 PM
elizabeth marietta

I apologize. It is not, but

Nov. 24 2013 11:40 AM
elizabeth marietta

This is so true. What is even more bothersome is that parents often take their children who are younger than 13 to the PG-13 movies. Rather than trusting the rating, we look to to help us decide if it appropriate for our kids.

Nov. 24 2013 11:31 AM

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