Theater Shooting in Colorado Prompts Question – Should Young Children See Violent Films?

I woke up this morning to the news of an overnight shooting at a movie theater during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Reports are still out about the number of people killed in the incident, but some say up to 14 people, and at least 12. Dozens are being treated for injuries. As the news unfolds and people who were present in the theater come forward with their stories, it make me think of a deeper topic. The shooting itself is a horrible tragedy and it makes me sick. But there’s more.
Photo from IMDB
I’m seeing 17-year-olds talk about being in the theater with their 12-year-old brothers. I hear a woman talking about stepping over a 6-year-old victim. This makes me ask, “What were those kids doing in a movie theater at midnight?” And it isn’t really the time of day that concerns me so much, but the content of the movie. One reporter called this a “very violent movie” this morning on the news, and Common Sense Media describes it as “ultra-violent.” Others have prematurely speculated that the gunman was acting out some of the violence from the movie and was dressed in character representing one of the movie characters. Regardless, if this is violent movie, why were there such young children there?
What do you think? Do you think young children should be at movies such as The Dark Knight Rises? The movie has a PG-13 rating for “intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language” according to IMDB movie info. Do you think this is an appropriate rating? How do you decide which movies you as an adult, or your family of older children will see?  If you have watched the rest of the Batman series and plan to see this film, I’d love to hear your perspective, since I haven’t seen the movies. 
My children were young teens when The Dark Knight came out, and they weren’t very happy with me for not allowing them to watch it. Do you agree with my decision? Or do you think I’m overprotective?
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  1. Very though-provoking post.
    I, too, watched the morning news with all of the coverage and how experts agreed that there was extreme violence in this movie.

    I'm not sure if I'm a good mama to answer this question. When it comes to movie ratings and what movies are all the rage for teenagers, I don't have a hard and fast rule….other than I do prefer to watch any movie in question WITH my kids. But even still…this is usually done when the movie comes out on DVD, so I actaully have more of an idea of the movie's content by this time. I try to use it as an opportunity to talk with my kids. By now….my kids are used to this. Am I boring? Probably!

    Just the other day, my 14 year old daughter brought home a movie that her 8th grade class trip to DC watched on the bus ride there. It was rated PG 13. I ended up having to have a conversation about teenage pregnancy, abortion and adoption all while wathcing the movie and after. (my 13-year-old didn't know what some of these terms meant)

    Would I let my young kids go to this one? Probably not.

  2. I, too, was shocked to read of the extremely young children who were at the theatre in Aurora last night. One article I read mentioned a 6 month old. I don't subscribe to the belief that movies can alter someone's beliefs, values or behaviors. I think anyone capable of shooting innocent strangers did not become capable because of a movie they watched. I think they have always had that hate stirring in them. I do believe, however, that some movies are just too confusing or inappropriate for children of certain ages. I know six year olds who have nightmares after watching Disney's The Lion King. Certainly, anyone of the Batman movies would completely shake their world leaving them terrified and confused. And beyond that, I think it is unhealthy to keep them up past midnight. Sleep is very important for young people, and it is probably not very responsible to bring such young children to a movie at such a late time of night.

    That being said, I think there is a certain age where parents need to let go and allow their children to make their own choices. I do not believe that this age is 18. For most teenagers, I think they are capable of making their own decisions much younger, especially regarding something as frivolous as watching a movie. Each teenager will be different in the ways that they develop… But if they are not expected to figure out what is right for them before they leave the home, how do you expect them to know how to make choices once they have left? If they have never had the opportunity to make potential mistakes while they still have that safety of their parents to help them learn how to fix them… They are bound to make disastrous mistakes when their parents are no longer there.

  3. Thank you for your input! Parenting is sure a tough thing sometimes, isn't it?

    When my son who is almost 20 now reached the age of 17 or 18, we let him make decisions about things we didn't let him read or watch when he was 13 or 14 and even a few later teen years. Now that he has read or watched them, he says he totally gets our decision. And he said there were things he wouldn't have understood in the same way at a younger age. And he's thankful we asked him to wait, even though it was difficult because it wasn't a popular thing to do.

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