NATO has proposed a new way to keep innocent people from being exposed to violence, and we say, go for it.
That's the National Association of Theatre Owners, of course, and we're talking about the organization's initiative to start carding youngsters who want to see R-rated movies.
The theater owners group is trying to head off government intervention toward controlling adolescents' exposure to violence in the media, in light of the rash of school ground shootings in the United States over the past couple of years. Many fingers have been pointed at graphic violence in movies and television shows as a cause for the deadly behavior of students at their schools.
We agree that the media culture of violence certainly must be having an effect on the impressionable minds of our children, and that steps must be taken to blunt this effect.
NATO's strategy is to strictly enforce its voluntary policy of having ticket-sellers check photo-I.D.s of teens trying to get into R-rated movies. Children age 16 and younger must be accompanied by their parent or guardian in order to be allowed to see R-rated films in theaters.
There are several issues that will limit the effectiveness of the NATO program. A third of the nation's movie screens are not covered by the agreement. The way multiplexes are designed, a young teen could buy a ticket for Disney's "Tarzan" and then just sneak into "Instinct." And there are no penalties for theaters or employees who let youngsters into R-rated movies.
But it's a start, and one that should be extended to video rental stores. The issue is responsibility, and at least theater owners appear ready to assume some more of what is truly theirs.
Hopefully, those who are writing, directing, acting in and producing movies will take a cue.