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PG-13 films have more gun violence than R-rated films

Posted January 24

From left, Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) prepare to square off against other members of the Avengers team in "Captain America: Civil War," now on Blu-ray and DVD. (Deseret Photo)

You're not exactly any more free from gun violence when you watch a PG-13 movie over an R-rated film.

A new study published in Pediatrics found that there's actually more gun violence in a PG-13 movie than in R-rated films.

The study, which is actually a continuation of a 2013 study that looked at the same trends, found that gun violence is on the rise, Fast Company reported.

"The increasing trend of gun violence in PG-13 movies that we detected in 2012 continues unabated," lead author Dan Romer said, according to Fast Company. "We were interested in seeing if the trend might have stalled or even reversed. Our findings suggest that Hollywood continues to rely on gun violence as a prominent feature in its highly popular PG-13 action-oriented films."

Of course, you're not always going to see the blood and despair played out on screen. In these films, you'll hear and see gunshots, but maybe not always see the bloody conclusions of the shot. Still, the amount of guns going off in PG-13 films remains at an all-time high.

And despite the high amount of gun violence, PG-13 films still tend to lead at the box office, according to the study.

This presents a challenge for families, experts told Fast Company. Children are still susceptible to seeing violence on screen, just without the consequences.

This could make children more tolerant of the gunshots and more likely to engage in violent behavior. The researchers compared it to previous research on smoking and drinking in the movies. When films showed people drinking and smoking, but without the consequences, those kids were more likely to engage in those behaviors.

"As a result, movie-going families are now undergoing an experiment in which children of any age can enter a theater to watch a PG-13 film in which the protagonists gain power, settle conflicts, and kill or are killed by lethal weapons," says the report. "At the same time, tolerance for such fare is being heightened. The more parents watch these violent movies, the more they become desensitized to them and the less likely they are to prevent their children from watching them."

But parents may be the ones to change the patterns moving forward. As The Huffington Post reported, the Motion Picture Association of America bases its ratings on culture and how families react to certain movies.

MPAA spokesman Chris Ortman told HuffPost that their ratings are unlikely to change unless they receive a lot of feedback from American families.

“This system has withstood the test of time because, as American parents’ sensitivities change, so too does the rating system,” he told HuffPost. “Elements such as violence, language, drug use, and sexuality are continually re-evaluated through surveys and focus groups to mirror contemporary concern and to better assist parents in making the right family viewing choices.”

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