Why Parents Worry More About Sex than Violence in the Movies

Posted on December 5, 2015

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A new study on movie ratings found that more parents (80% of those surveyed) are concerned with their kids seeing graphic sex scenes than with graphic violence (64%). And while only 56% of them are worried about the depiction of realistic violence, a full 70% are distressed by full frontal shots of people au naturel.

Violence is more harmful to people than sex. Parents universally hope their kids will never have to be violent or even experience violence. Sex, on the other hand, is a part of life that everybody wants their offspring to enjoy eventually. So why care so much more about depictions of sex than brutality?

Well, for one, exactly because of the difference in likelihood between the two things happening. Many people, at least in Western democracies on most days, can live their whole lives without encountering extreme violence. It’s a fantasy. But sex is something most humans will have to deal with eventually. It’s a reality. So far, it’s the species’ most effective means of reproduction. Engaged parents generally feel they can counteract any glamorization of violence with their own behavior, and a frank and open discussion of the issues. In any case, whether they’ve seen movies or not, most kids will try to get what they want by force at some juncture—yay, human nature!—so parents have plenty of opportunities to nip that kind of impulse in the bud and explain even to little children why it’s a bad idea.

Conversely, 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. Partly, this is timing. Kids’ interest in sex really ramps up at adolescence, just when parents feel, rightly or wrongly, their influence is waning. Moreover, on a very primal level, since parents are hardwired to avoid sexual feelings towards their offspring, it can feel awkward to consume any sexual content around them. They don’t want to have those conversations.

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. When people get it on in movies, it usually ends well for all concerned. Very rarely are they depicted dealing with pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, or the vague feeling that they were just being used. To parents, the consequences of one are more clearly depicted than the other.

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Category(s):Child and/or Adolescent Issues, Parenting

Source material from Time


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