BBFC to safeguard kids from sex, violence and swearing but goes soft on cannabis

Children are set to be better protected from violence, bad language and sexual content in films under the British Board of Film Classification’s (BBFC) updated guidelines.

Following public consultation with over 12,000 people across the UK, the BBFC announced that from May it may require a higher age rating for bad language with sexual connotations and “violence across all-age rating categories”.

Although the rating board said it would be stricter with on-screen sex scenes that are currently deemed acceptable for 12-year-olds, it would take a “less restrictive approach” to cannabis and solvent use.


The BBFC’s research, conducted by We Are Family, found that “audiences expressed concerns about how distressing or disturbing some forms of violence can be”.

The public were “concerned about the normalisation of bad language” and that “young viewers may hear and repeat such language”, as well as the “level of sexual detail, nudity and the duration of the sex scenes rated 12A/12 under the 2019 guidelines”.

But the BBFC found that “people are now slightly more accepting of cannabis misuse” and thought that its current policy classifying “solvent misuse was overly cautious”.

More than eight in ten people (81 per cent) wanted a “consistent age rating system across cinema, physical media and Video On Demand (VoD)/streaming services”. Although Netflix currently uses the BBFC’s ratings, streaming services are not required to do so.


In 2021, the BBFC came under fire for deeming blasphemous use of the names “God” and “Jesus Christ” ‘suitable for all’.

In guidance for certification, it claimed that while ‘Universal’ or ‘U’ films could only contain infrequent use of “very mild bad language”, misusing the name of the Lord was acceptable.

The Christian Institute’s Ciarán Kelly called it “a slap in the face for Christians”.

Also see:

Young people may watch porn even more than thought

Netflix cancellations spike after release of film ‘sexualising children’

Children watching improper content on streaming services