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More gun violence in top PG-13 movies than in biggest R-rated films

PHILADELPHIA – The amount of gun violence in the top-grossing PG-13 movies has more than tripled since 1985, and in 2012 it exceeded the gun violence in the top-grossing R-rated movies, according to researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center and the Ohio State University.

The overall rate of violence in the biggest box-office movies has more than doubled since 1950, the researchers report in a new study.

The study, “Gun Violence Trends in Movies,” published in the December issue of Pediatrics (online publication Nov. 11), shows that in 1985, the first full year of the PG-13 rating, the amount of gun violence in popular PG-13 movies was similar to that in movies rated G and PG. Since then, the gun violence in PG-13 movies has grown, and since 2009 it has rivaled the level of gun violence in R-rated movies.

“It’s disturbing that PG-13 movies are filled with so much gun violence,” said Dan Romer, director of the Adolescent Communication Institute of the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) and a co-author of the study. “We know that movies teach children how adults behave, and they make gun use appear exciting and attractive.”

The dramatic growth of gun violence in movies aimed at younger viewers is especially troubling, the researchers said, because of the “weapons effect,” a finding that just the sight or depiction of a gun can make people behave more aggressively. “Because of the increasing popularity of PG-13 films, youth are exposed to considerable gun violence in movie scripts,” the researchers said in the study. “The mere presence of guns in these films may increase the aggressive behavior of youth.”

To read the complete news release, click here. To read the study in Pediatrics, click here.

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