80 Percent Of Parents Are Worried About Sex In Movies, While Far Less Worry About Violence

A new survey commissioned by the Classification and Rating Administration asked parents what film content they found most troublesome for their children to watch and the findings were pretty fucking troublesome. The 2015 Parents Ratings Advisory Study found that 80 percent of parents were most worried about graphic sex scenes being depicted in movies, compared with 64 percent who were most worried about graphic violence.

Of course, there is room for parents to be concerned about both — an 8-year-old watching a graphic sex scene is no less troublesome than a 16-year-old being completely desensitized to graphic violence. But the overwhelming outrage parents feel over sexual content (including simple nudity and suggestive sexual innuendo) compared to the relatively mild response to violence demonstrates a larger problem around what we normalize to children and what we don't.

Ideally, sex is something that we learn more details about in developmentally-appropriate stages, so that by the time we're undergoing sexual awakening (which happens at different ages for different kids), we're ready to begin developing healthy fantasy lives, and, eventually, healthy sex lives with other people (should we so choose). Exposure to developmentally-appropriate sex scenes (not just in movies, but in YA lit, fan-fiction, and other media adolescents consume) is part of that healthy fantasy-building.

Engagement with sexual content also leads young people to ask thoughtful questions (of themselves and others) in grappling with the formation of their sexual identities. Of course, exposure to some violence in media also serves as a helpful dialogue-starter about the ethics of violence. The difference is that giving young people gradually increasing doses of sexual information works towards the end-goal of normalizing all ethical, consensual sex. The normalization of violence is not something any healthy parent is striving for. Unfortunately, the comparative lack of concern about it only serves to normalize it without us even trying, as the results of two mass shootings this week display.

Here's the breakdown of what percentage of parents found the following content most troublesome:

80% Graphic Sex Scenes

72% Full Male Nudity

70% Hard Drug Use

70% Full Female Nudity

64% Graphic Violence

62% Use of the F Word

59% Marijuana Use

59% Horror Violence

57% Non-Graphic Sex Scenes

57% Non-Graphic Sexual Innuendo

57% Partial Nudity

57% Brief Nudity

The survey also polled parents on what content they believe there is still too much of in PG-13 rated movies, and sexual content overwhelmingly wins out over violence again (though use of the word "f*ck" topped this list at 53 percent). Fifty-one percent of parents believe that graphic sex scenes appear too much in PG-13 rated movies. Suggestive sexual innuendo, full female nudity, and partial nudity in PG-13 rated movies concerned 47-49 percent of parents. Only 44 percent thought graphic violence was too prevalent.

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