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Kids' Movies Still Depict Unsafe Practices

Many Popular Movies Targeted to Children Skimp on Injury Prevention Practices, Study Says

By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 11, 2010 -- Despite improvements, too much dangerous activity is still depicted in movies targeted at youngsters, a new study says.

In the study, published in the February issue of Pediatrics, half the scenes examined in movies aimed at children showed unsafe practices.

The authors studied injury prevention practices in children's movies to see whether they have improved or worsened compared to movies from 1995-1997 and 1998-2002.

Sixty-seven movies among the top-grossing G-rated and PG-rated movies from 2003-2007 were studied, with a total of 958 person-scenes.

The authors write that certain depictions of injury prevention practices - wearing safety belts, using crosswalks, wearing helmets when biking, and wearing personal flotation devices -- have improved since earlier studies but "prevention practices are still underrepresented."

The American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on media violence recommends that parents closely monitor what their children watch. Parents should highlight unsafe practices in movies and educate their children about practicing safer behaviors, the researchers say.

But, they say, more improvement is needed.

"The entertainment industry has improved the depiction of selected safety practices in G and PG-rated movies," the authors write. "However, approximately one half of scenes still depict unsafe practices and the consequences of these behaviors are rarely shown. The industry should continue to improve how it depicts safety practices in children's movies."

They note that unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the U.S., accounting for 36% of fatalities among children 1 to 14.

Fatal injuries could be "substantially reduced" if proper safety recommendations were followed, the policy says, because children "often imitate what they see on television and in films."

The report says the Motion Picture Association of American "could consider injury-prevention practices when establishing criteria for rating movies."

SOURCES: News release, CDC.

Tongren, J. Pediatrics; vol 125: February 2010.

American Academy of Pediatrics: Policy Statement-Media Violence, November 2009.

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