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Violent Movies Expose Kids to Cigarettes, Alcohol and Sex

Update Date: Dec 09, 2013 03:15 PM EST

Due to parental fears about exposure to topics, such as sex and violence, movies and television programs are rated. Based on the ratings, some parents would hope that the approved movies and shows limit what their children would see. However, according to a new study, violent movies that are approved for children aged 12 and older tend to expose these adolescents to smoking, drinking and sex.

"Parents should be aware that youth who watch PG-13 movies will be exposed to characters whose violence is linked to other more common behaviors, such as alcohol and sex, and that they should consider whether they want their children exposed to that influence," said study lead author Amy Bleakley, a policy research scientist at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center reported by Medical Xpress.

For this study, Bleakley and colleagues examined 400 movies that came out from 1985 to 2010. In these top-grossing films, the research team focused on violence and its relation to cigarettes, alcohol and sex within the movies. The researchers reported that in 90 percent of the movies, one of the main characters could be tied to violent acts. The team had defined violence as any attempt to hurt someone else even if the attempts were done for comedic purposes. The researchers found that in 77 percent of the movies, the main character also participated in sexual acts, which including, kissing and dancing provocatively, smoked and or drank alcohol.

The researchers stated that even those these behaviors occurred less in G rated movies, movies with a PG-13 rating and R rating shared similarities. This is not the first study that Bleakley has published in regards to violence in media and childhood exposure. Several studies have attempted to link violence from movies to bad behaviors. However, experts have stressed that these studies did not find cause-and-effect relationships.

"There's no evidence that this [violence in movies] is a public-health concern, nor do the authors of this study provide any evidence of a public-health concern," Christopher Ferguson, the chairman of the psychology department at Stetson University in Florida commented.

The study was published in Pediatrics.

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