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PG-13 movies have more gun violence than R-rated movies, study shows

The rate of gun violence per hour in top-grossing PG-13 movies is more than double, now, than in 1984, surpassing the rate of gun violence in R-rated movies, a study made at the University of Pennsylvania shows.

PG-13 movies, however, do not usually show the consequences of gun violence, the analysis revealed.

Daniel Romer and his colleagues from The University of Pennsylvania divided the movies in five-minute segments and counted how many segments included events where someone fired a weapon and hit another person.

They found that since 1984, when the PG-13 rating was introduced, the rate of gun violence incidents in high-grossing PG-13 movies rose from 1 per hour to 2.63 per hour.

If a five-minute segment contained more than one such event, it still only counted once.

Romer says that PG-13 movies now seem to be driven by a rise in depictions of shootings that were stylized rather than realistic. He noted that gun violence seen in many PG-13 films is shown without visible consequences, including without blood and suffering.

”Film producers have become clever about that, and now we see films where there is a lot of gun violence, but no one seems to be physically injured other than possibly falling down,” he said.

”You can go under the radar with this kind of violence, make it look like it’s an acceptable, appropriate way to solve conflicts, especially when you glorify it with characters who look like they’re good people,” he added.

The analysis showed that the rate of gun violence in R-rated movies is smaller than in PG-13 movies. However, R-rated movies contain more realistic depictions of the consequences of being shot.

The new analysis was published in the online journal Pediatrics Perspectives.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (APPC), repeatedly viewing violent images can influence some youth to become more aggressive.

APPC researchers noted that more research is needed to establish if bloodless gun violence shown in PG-13 movies is less or more harmful than movies where gun violence shows more gory consequences.

“Until we know more about the effects of repeated exposure to gun violence, pediatricians should consider advising parents to be cautious about exposing their children to the gun violence in PG-13 movies,” the APPC researchers said.

Daniel Pruitt