November 09, 2009


Here we go again:

Cartoons should be given movie-style age ratings to protect children from the violence shown in programmes such as Scooby Doo and Batman, a child safety expert has warned.

Dr Karen Pfeffer, a senior lecturer at Lincoln University, said that risky behaviour which would normally lead to injury is rarely shown to have negative consequences in cartoons.

She claims to have found evidence that there children who watch violent programmes are more likely to engage in risky behaviour and injure themselves.

Dr Pfeffer, who is also an international mentor for the World Health Organisation, will address the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents this week and call for children's television programmes, particularly live action programmes, to carry ratings for parents to make informed choices for their children.

Among the programmes she deemed to contain the most risky behaviour were Scooby-Doo, Batman, X-Men and Ben 10.

"I have looked at whether television's portrayal of risky behaviour affects children and have found evidence of children imitating dangerous TV behaviours, evidence of a positive correlation between amount of TV viewing and injury rates and evidence that TV viewing can affect children's perceptions of risk," she said.

"The problem is that these characters engage in risky behaviours and experience great violence but the negative consequences of dangerous behaviour are usually not portrayed.

I am old enough to remember the wave of cartoon panic that swept across this country in the late 70's, when "behavioral researchers" suddenly started warning us that too much exposure to Bugs Bunny and the Road-Runner were causing tots to plunge off cliffs like Wile E. Coyote or run amok blowing things to smivverweens like Elmer Fudd. As a result, the networks yanked some Looney Tune cartoons and started heavily editing others. I still vividly recall what happened to the classic Bugs/Daffy episode where Daffy is trying to convince Fudd that it's rabbit season but keeps getting his own beak blown off. So much of it was cut out as to make the rest virtually incomprehensible.

But Scooby-Doo? I don't remember anything particularly dangerous or risky about that unless it was the contents of some of the sandwiches Shaggy put together. And as Lisa Simpson once said, Scooby taught me that I have nothing to fear in the world except unscrupulous real-estate developers.

Posted by Robert at November 9, 2009 09:58 AM | TrackBack

Bob Clampett would often have Dishonest John or Cecil pause in the action to ask if parents thought there was too much violence in cartoons. That was in the 60's. I am assuming you know of what cartoon those are characters of.

Posted by: Mike at November 9, 2009 12:40 PM

Didn't they go through this in the 1950s with comic books?

I watched tons of the Bugs Bunny & Road Runner cartoons and I only rarely drop an anvil on someone's head. Though I will make an exception in Dr. Pfeffer's case.

Posted by: rbj at November 9, 2009 01:50 PM

Most important lesson I learned was to never trust a product from the Acme Corporation.

Posted by: ChrisN at November 9, 2009 10:11 PM

And now I'm going to post this because it's somewhat related:

Posted by: ChrisN at November 9, 2009 10:13 PM
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