A number of years ago I was approached by my 6- and 7-year-old children with a plea for me to take them to the new Batman movie. I was not concerned about the movie being too violent -- after all, I had grown up watching Batman on television.
The Batman I knew was polite and would not ever think about striking a woman or actually killing someone. Sure, he threw a lot of punches, but even those were blocked from the viewer's eyes with large text images that read "POW" or "WHAM".
I was shocked to learn that the Batman movie was rated PG13. This rating indicated that parents of children under the age of 13 should use caution in deciding whether to bring their child, due to the graphic violence contained in the film. I was even more shocked to learn that McDonald's restaurants were marketing the film with their Happy Meals -- a child's meal box with a toy that was intended for children under the age of 12.
It was clear to me that the entertainment industry was not being held accountable for its inappropriate marketing of films to young children who were not even old enough to view them by themselves.
In recent years, our lawmakers have seen the danger of allowing private industry to market harmful products to children. President Clinton forced the tobacco industry to be responsible with its advertising. Like cigarettes, children should not be enticed to purchase or rent a video if they are not old enough to view it without adult supervision.
Whether it's tobacco, television programs or films, I believe we, as parents, are first and foremost responsible for what we allow our children to partake of. However, I also believe we do not have to allow a business or industry to deliberately target young children who are not old enough to understand the harm a product can cause. This would be like allowing a baby to play with a razor blade. Let's support accountability and responsibility in marketing.
-- Richard Haddad, Publisher