“Cynical directors and weak censors mean our children now go to films that would have been x-rated ten years ago”, a film critic has warned.
Chris Tookey’s comments came in response to the release of Sucker Punch, a 12A-rated film that teaches our children that “abusive sex and extreme violence aren’t really so bad” – a rating which allows children in as long as they are accompanied by an adult.
Mr Tookey, writing in the Daily Mail, hit out at the 12A certificate given to some movies and warned that current ground rules on sex and violence “have been relaxed to the point where not only morality but also common sense have flown out of the window”.
He pointed out that even five-year-olds would be able to see a 12A, so long as they were accompanied by someone that looked more or less grown up.
The 12A film certificate was introduced by the British Board of Film Classification to bridge the gap between PG and 12.
Mr Tookey said there was plenty of evidence to suggest that “the 12A certificate is increasingly being used with despicable cynicism to expose children to material that is highly inappropriate and potentially damaging”.
He pointed out that “what was once an 18 is now a 15. What was a 15 is now a 12A, which means that children under 12 (the old 12 certificate having been abolished in cinemas) can see it if they are with someone deemed to be mature.”
He added: “And the subtext, of course, is that the ‘lower’ the certificate, the more money the studio is likely to make because the film is open to a larger audience.”
In September a survey of 1,004 parents of children under the age of 18 revealed that 80 per cent of parents felt that films and video games with violent or sexual themes could be accessed too easily by children.
The research, conducted for Christian charity Mothers’ Union, also showed that most parents think television, films, magazines and the internet make children sexually aware at a younger age than they would be otherwise.
In 2009 researchers found that children who view TV programmes aimed at adults are more likely to engage in sexual activity earlier in life.
The study found that the younger children were exposed to TV shows with adult content, the sooner they became sexually active during adolescence.
In a separate study in the same year researchers found that violent computer games and too much television increased dangers of mental health issues in children and could drive children to have early sex.