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Thursday, 5 September, 2002, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
12A film certificate: Your views
Titanic starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet
Titanic was a 12-rated film
Children are to be allowed to watch 12-rated films for the first time - but only if they are accompanied by an adult.

The current 12 rating will be scrapped and replaced by a new certificate, the 12A, intended to give parents the power to decide what their children should see.

Movies that would now be open to younger children include Titanic, Independence Day and Armageddon.

"We know that the development and maturity of children varies considerably and parents know best what their children can deal with," said Robin Duval, director of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

This talking point is now closed but you can see a selection of your comments below.

Have your say

I have no problem with allowing parents to decide what their children should watch to a degree, particularly at the early teenage years when individual development varies hugely.

What I was disappointed with was parents reaction when Spiderman was released. Many complained that their children could not see the film but I doubt any of them had actually seen it before complaining. If in doubt a parent should always view a film privately before allowing their children to see it.

A person cannot come to a decision without full knowledge of the facts.

I do remember seeing Crocodile Dundee (15 rating) and still can't figure out why it wasn't a PG.
Paul, UK

I find it ironic that the BBFC relaxes restrictions for children yet still regulates adult viewing - the same people who they say "know best what their children can deal with". I agree with regulating children's viewing to protect them from poor parenting but I think adults should be responsible for their own viewing choices.
Andrew Stevenson, UK


The only problem I could forsee with this is too many kids in the cinema distracting you from watching the film

Paul Kerton, UK
Does the 12A cert intend to replace the PG cert? If so they should put up an 8 or 10 cert or something stupid like that so that films like Harry Potter, LOTR, Spiderman etc can actually be seen by the right audience, and not have a disclaimer because the studios don't want to look greedy.
Dave, UK

Isn't responsibility a more appropriate term than control? After all, isn't the issue one of legal liability and parental responsibility?
Leslie, UK

How can you control the uncontrollable? Today's influences don't just come from films and I don't think that changing the 12A film certificate is going to help. Young people of that age know more than many past generation at that age. There is no way of stopping this natural cycle.
Steve, UK

The only problem I could forsee with this is too many kids in the cinema distracting you from watching the film. Other than that I support parental decision on a child's behalf.
Paul Kerton, UK

Having participated in the pilot scheme at Norwich with my seven and nine year olds, I am delighted that I am now able to choose what they see. I am confident that they are sensible enough to enjoy a film without recereating it in the playground. I would, however, still avoid letting them see Titanic despite the new ruling as I would not want my children to think that this movie is (a) remotely factually correct and (b) the pinnacle of US film-making.
Duncan Wain, England


Lord of the Rings was a joke at PG

Mike, UK
Yes, it's a blinking good idea, my under twelve-year-old child would like to see Spider-Man or any other simiar certificated film, but can't at the moment. As a child I enjoyed watching horror films such as Dracula, haunted houses type of films on TV, these films would probably be certificated over 12 and I slept well at nights.

I pray they do replace this certificate so we can go and see one of our favourite heros. Anyway there are more intimate, bloody type of films, drama plays on TV (I'm not complaining, keep making them) and I have to decide whether it is suitable for my child to watch.
Queenbee, United Kingdom

I think that children these days are already allowed to watch far more explicit images than can possibly be good for them. "Gangster Rap" and "sexy" stars are taking away our children's innocence and denyimg them the childhood that they deserve. Violence and sex are an integral part of the world that we live in today but children should be able to enjoy life without thinking about the serious aspects relating to adulthood. The watershed should also be brought forward because shows like Eastenders are a very bad example. Children should be outside playing!!!
Dillon Jacobi, Wales

Er... isn't that what PG is for?
Mike, UK

Rather than change the system that was intended to protect children why not ask the movie industry why they have decided to place one or two gratuitous scenes of disturbing (and often sickening) violence into many blockbusters.

Lord of the Rings was a joke at PG but the simple removal of a couple of small scenes, that were certainly not Tolkien, would have made it genuinely suitable for all.

Horror classics such as Frankinstein and Dracula would probably only merit a PG in today's media-company driven industry. Makes me wonder why they bother classifying films at all. And why is sex (a birth right) heavily classified but violence and horror regarded as suitable?
Mike, UK


What we need are more suitable films for younger people and a certification system we can trust

Wendy, UK
I think it is a great idea and to those who think it is will be the same as PG, here are the differences:

PG - General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for some children. i.e. unaccompanied children of any age may watch.

12A - No-one younger than 12 may see a 12A film in a cinema unless accompanied by an adult.

I hope this clears up a few misguided thoughts!
Alan, UK

Of course it's sensible - children are the motive force behind an enormous proportion of retail spending (75% of the UK economy). Enough said really.
Steve, UK

This 12A certificate gives me the excuse to see some "children's" films that I've been too embarrassed to see on my own! Now I've just got to find a 12-year-old to take with me...
Lisa, UK

How times change. In the 40s and 50s my mother spent Saturday afternoons in the cinema with all of her friends. Films were put on specially for them and parents did not need to worry about the content. Ask anyone over 60 about "going to the pictures" and they will probably spend the next half hour reminiscing about how much fun it was.

Nowadays it seems I either have to pay to see a film first before my 11-year-old daughter watches it or accompany her to see it. There are precious few places where her age group can be together on their own and learn a bit of independence. What we need are more suitable films for younger people and a certification system we can trust. Adults need that protection too. I agree with Mike, Lord of the Rings was a great film but contained some truly terrifying scenes.
Wendy, UK


Do everybody a favour; scrap 12s altogether and go back to PG and 15 ratings - and rate it properly in the first place!

Mike, UK
I think it's about time that we had a complete change of our classifications. Why is it that you can see real violence at the age of 17 but can't see a movie about it until you are 18? I think we should really do away with the 18 and replace it with a 16. Though this will probably never happen. Maybe we should have a classification system like they do in Europe where you can see Showgirls (topical choice you see) at the age of 12 in France.
Erik, UK

What's the point? The BBFC is already a right pain when it comes to cutting films for different certificates - my local cinema owner got the rating for Spiderman reduced to a PG. Credit to the man, because there was absolutely nothing wrong with it to make it a 12 rated film.

I remember when the 12 rating came out for Batman - again, it would have been fine as a PG. Do everybody a favour; scrap 12s altogether and go back to PG and 15 ratings - and rate it properly in the first place!
Mike, UK

All certificates (18 included) should be advisory only; with children of any age being permitted to view if accompanied by their legal guardian. This would put the cinema on a par with TV and allow parents to bring up their own children. The state cannot legislate for bad parenting, it can only seek to educate the population - we do live in a democracy.
Jeff Martin, N. Ireland

"Unless accompanied by an adult" - that's a laugh. Since when do any cinemas prevent kids under age or without parents going in to see a movie?! The number of times I've seen young kids seated in cinemas watching 15s astounds me. Yet more evidence of our fast crumbling moral decline in society. Yet more evidence that our kids are being encouraged to grow up long before their time. Give it a few years and 7-year-olds will be watching The Exorcist whilst the world applauds saying: "Oh, look, isn't that educational? Our kids need to know the facts, don't they?"
Tracey Dare, UK


In general parents do know best about their children but there is a concern about a minority of parents or indeed other over 18s who might take children to films

Raymond Hill, UK
The ratings system is a farce anyway. Films with a 12 rating have content I wouldn't want to see, let alone my 12-year-old. What would have been given an X or 18 years ago probably gets a PG nowadays!
Ali, Scotland

I have often seen people obviously aged under 15, at a 15 rated movie. I suspect the same thing will happen at 12A movies.
Ian, UK

Great! More selfish "parents" can bring their annoying offspring to the cinema so the kids can start crying at the first sight of an "adult theme". Thanks BBFC!
Dan, London

Isn't this just a return to the old "A" certificate, where children had to be accompanied by an adult? Funny how things go full circle!
Louis, UK

In general parents do know best about their children but there is a concern about a minority of parents or indeed other over 18s who might take children to films. It is certain that some under 12s will see films that they are not ready for.
Raymond Hill, UK

About time too. What people do not realise is that these kids are going to see these films, one way or another. It's a very good idea that parents have more say and control about what our children can see, rather than the BBFC and other associations.
Jason, UK


Are parents really going to view a film prior to their children seeing it?! That's the only way to exercise proper parental control

Mark, South Wales
This does seem to be a good idea, but I hope this is as far as it goes. If not, we will end up with a ridiculous situation, similar to the US where very small children can see films such as The Exorcist if they are accompanied by an adult.
Robin, England

What's so wrong with films that provoke emotional reactions in children? For some, the death of Bambi's mother is the most shocking scene ever screened! The cinema can be a vicarious way for the young to learn how to deal with whatever life may throw at them.
Steve, Lincoln, UK

I agree with the current move but believe the UK should definitely not copy the US. Since arriving here I have seen babies and toddlers brought to watch very violent films (e.g Black Hawk Down) and nobody bats an eyelid. Also you can't watch anything without kids crying and talking constantly, which is incredibly annoying, but is the norm over here.
Karen, US and UK

Can the BBFC enforce the rule that all children are kept in a soundproofed box at the back? There's nothing worse than a room full of children when I'm trying to watch Toy Story or something.
Duncan Hill, England

It's absurd, we entrust impartial experts to make judgement on the suitability, then ignore their views.

It's part of the new "I know best culture".

Are parents really going to view a film prior to their children seeing it?! That's the only way to exercise proper parental control.

The 12 certificate came about because of the farce with Batman. The BBFC thought it wasn't suitable for a PG but couldn't for political reason give a 15 certificate to a "kids" film!
Mark, South Wales


It's about time that censors recognised the fundamental rights of parents to decide what their children can and cannot watch

Paul, UK
I have always thought that the BBFC are too strict in matters of sexual references (a mere hint of it can result in a 12 cert!) and too lenient with regard to graphic violence - some scenes in 12 films are gratuitously gory and shocking. All this change will mean is a greater leap from 12A to 15 - and which cinemas have ever checked your age, anyway?
Steve, Bristol, UK

It's about time that censors recognised the fundamental rights of parents to decide what their children can and cannot watch. All too often certificates have been issued that grossly overstate the content of a film. They should go the whole way and return to the old 3 certificate system of U, PG (Children MUST have an adult accompanying them and X (or 18 - Adults only).

Not only is this a fairer and more equitable system to the rest of the world but it could give British cinema the lifeline it so badly needs. I recently took my two sons to watch Men in Black II in a 1/4 full cinema. Besides, when the film is issued on video, children will see these films then, and much needed revenue will be lost to the film industry.
Paul, Oxford, UK

I note that under 12s can see a 12A if accompanied by any adult - not just their parents. How does this allow parents to exercise parental responsibility if older friends or relatives can take children to see a film that parents may not wish them to see?
Michael Snow, UK

What is the point of that, why not just keep the traditional PG rating as surely that means the same thing.....does it not???
Dave Witchard, England

The new 12A rating is generally a good idea, but wouldn't it be a great idea if some cinemas banned kids altogether from some screenings of "family films".

Just one or two screenings a week where I can watch a film in peace with no screaming bairns running amok. Monsters Inc. and Lord of the Rings were ruined by the wee neds who got bored and thought throwing popcorn and fighting in the aisles was more interesting than what was on screen.
Colin, Scotland


I still think that some showing of 12A movies are reserved for 18+ audiences, to save us from the annoying talking/mobile phones/crying

Phil, England
I think we're doing a u-turn here. Didn't we already have Universal, PG, 15 and 18 certs. I ask the question, what IS the difference between 12A and PG?
James, Austalia

I hope we don't follow the US as it will mean that the studios will cut their films to get an R rating, thus denying adults the right to see films aimed at them. In the US, studios avoid NC17 ratings because they will lose revenue. They would rather children of any age can see films such as Basic Instinct, Aliens, Terminator and Scream than make it adults only. Because of this NC17 releases are assumed to be porn and few cinemas will show them. The adults of this country have the right to watch films as the directors intended - not the hacked to bits (but still unsuitable for children) versions that the studios produce.
Kiran, UK

I think the idea of 12A is a great one, for too long the state has been able to force its view on everybody else. However I still think that some showing of 12A movies are reserved for 18+ audiences, to save us from the annoying talking/mobile phones/crying....well you know the rest. Several cinemas in my area do this and it's a great success, even Toy Story 2 had several "18" screenings.
Phil, England

I would watch it first as I always do, and I would allow my 10-year-old to watch it and after he'd seen it I would then consider my younger son. However, not enough parents would take that course, so I think putting an age range with adult supervision is a good idea although I would imagine there will always be arguments on the age range.
Julie, UK

This worries me ! When I was a child in the late 50s we used to wait outside the cinema and ask complete strangers to "take us in" to see A rated films. Could we now see a recurrence of this? If a parent refuses to take their child to see a film, the child could resort to asking other adults - maybe strangers!!! Need I say more???
Geoff Turner, UK


Great! We're going to have screaming kids in the cinema when we want to watch a 12 now!

Stephen Gordon, UK
What's the point of introducing this rating if children well below 12 have been getting in for these films anyway? It's been going on for at least three years, as The Mummy was the first 12 film I saw in 1999. Since then, I've never been to one 12 film without seeing under-age children without adults (it's still breaking the law if they had adults with them).

Regarding Spider-Man, parents got exactly what they asked for. They complained to the BBFC that PG films were getting too violent, so the BBFC granted their wish and gave the film a 12 with a warning (rightly so, I say as some scenes were quite violent). Parents then complained that their children couldn't see it, without viewing the film themselves.

I am not in favour of this decision as it means even more noise and disturbance in the cinema from young children, and mainly because I (like many people my age) had to miss out on films like Batman, Batman Returns and Gremlins 2 just because the 12 certificate was new and more strictly imposed. I had to miss out and wait for the video. If I could wait, then I don't see why the children and parents of today can't.
Matthew, Wales

I think that by relaxing the 12 certificate a lot of parents will just take their children to see the film without knowing what it is about.
RV, England

Great! We're going to have screaming kids in the cinema when we want to watch a 12 now! Wasn't the PG rating brought in for the same reason as 12A? Keep it 12!
Stephen Gordon, UK

This is a good move in my view; some of my friends have kids under 12 and because they couldn't take them to see Spider-Man, they just obtained a pirate copy of the film. I'm sure that they all would have enjoyed the film better at the cinema.
Andrew, United Kingdom

Isn't the BBFC rating advisory anyway, so there is nothing to stop councils doing what they did for Spider-man and reducing a BBFC rating to a PG. There are always going to be films that cause some trouble on the margins and I'm never sure that our balance is quite right with swearing often appearing to cause more worry and offence than (in descending order of worry) "sexual" images and violence. The fears about language and sexual content are pointless: look in school playgrounds for worse language; look at the advertising and music industries for more uncensored sexual imagery. The daftest film rating ever was South Park - it was educational, genuinely satirical and should not have been an 18. The next daftest rating was Spider-Man: it was accompanied by a warning "contains scenes of strong fantasy violence and language." Phew, that clears that up, it's fantasy - I was expecting a documentary on bi-ped arachnids.
David, UK


The controls over what can be viewed in the domestic setting remain unaffected, and it is here, not in the cinema, where parental responsibility needs to be further encouraged

Richard Allan, UK
I feel that it is a ridiculous idea. Children nowadays are too forward as it is. There is nothing childish about them. When I was 12 I was into Superman and cartoons, I had never seen a feature length film with violence. That was the age of innocence. Children nowadays are exposed too much to drugs sex and violance, they don't need to be exposed to it any more. What is happening to the age of innocence, there is none. It surprises me that well educated people in charge of clasifications even thought about doing this. What will happen in the future?
Harps Kals, England

Isn't the BBFC rating advisory anyway, so there is nothing to stop councils doing what they did for Spider-Man and reducing a BBFC rating to a PG. There are always going to be films that cause some trouble on the margins and I'm never sure that our balance is quite right with swearing often appearing to cause more worry and offence than (in descending order of worry) "sexual" images and violence. The fears about language and sexual content are pointless: look in school playgrounds for worse language; look at the advertising and music industries for more uncensored sexual imagery.

The daftest film rating ever was South Park - it was educational, genuinely satirical and should not have been an 18. The next daftest rating was Spider-Man: it was accompanied by a warning "contains scenes of strong fantasy violence and language." Phew, that clears that up, it's fantasy - I was expecting a documentary on bi-ped arachnids.
David, UK

My three year old son thinks he's Superman and wears a towel for a cape all day every day - he gives us so much happiness to see him developing his own ideas. I don't know what guidance to give him - it will only be based on my subjective view of the world - sorry not to give a definite answer - more questions please!
John Cargill, Japan

It's obvious that film-makers are using the 12 certificate to their advantage to bump up the audiences. The use of the f-word twice and a measure of nudity will entail a 12 certificate. Film makers are simply inserting the f-word twice into what would have been a PG film to make it into a 12, thereby increasing it's appeal to a more "grown-up" audience. Minority Report used the f-word once and gained a 12 cerificate, whereas the rest of the content was PG.
Steve Gittins, UK

The change from 12 to 12A will place more responsibility on parents as to what their children watch, but only if the system is rigidly enforced. However, the controls over what can be viewed in the domestic setting remain unaffected, and it is here, not in the cinema, where parental responsibility needs to be further encouraged.
Richard Allan, UK

My thought is that our systematic "values" are very confused.

Artistic expression is essential but it's not the same as commercial sensibilities.Violence in some forms throughout history has played an important role in children's literature and actually helping them deal with their fears in a safe enviroment.

Producers are however not asked to validate their intended storylines, cartoons on TV for example, play with violence excessively (sex however is probited - go figure) which cultivates another generation's exposure to it but without context or meaning.
Zoe, UK

Why does it become OK for a young child to watch a film if they have an adult with them? Does the mere presence of an adult some how deflect the effect of the film on the child? If so, can we expect 15A and 18A categories, too?
Andrew Dowle, UK

Working as a team leader at a well known cinema, I feel that this was the wrong decision to make. The BBFC want this change to allow mature 10 and 11-year-olds to see 12-rated films but unfortunately there are irresponsible parents who will take advantage.

The BBFC also have deemed the certificate with a responsible adult. It is hard enough trying not to admit underage children without the troubles of dealing with identifying responsible adults and the backlash for trying to refuse an entry!

Also young kids bored with the content of the film or scared at certain scenes will annoy other guests trying to enjoy a movie.

The onus will now be on the on the adult and this must be stressed to all those taking kids into the films classified as having a 12 rating.

Despite what a lot of people think cinemas try extremely hard at keeping underage people out of films. It certainly is one case for national ID cards but that is a different discussion.

THis was certainly the wrong decision for the BBFC to make.
Helen, UK

This is a milestone for censorship everywhere. What it will do to cinema noise is a less likeable proposition. Since the whole issue of "under-age children sneaking in" has been going on as long as actual censorship has, there's no use mindlessly complaining about it. The age of innocence may be getting smaller, and adults/parents are powerless to stop these developments.

It's time to stop being naive, as things will only get worse and only God can really stop the onslaught of "undesirable" material on minors. But the whole Spider-Man debacle has done more for making censorship more lenient than the previous 10 years combined. It's almost as if the BBFC has woken up.

Now I'm seeing consumer advice for U-15 films everywhere, not to mention the obvious changes with the 12A cert (the 12 cert will remain intact for so-called "stronger" 12s). Now all the BBFC need to do is make a 15A cert too...by 15 teens are doing things that should never be shown on TV, and it's undeniable, so why not take the next logical step forward? Will it take another Spider-Man/Batman type film (a "kids" film) with sufficiently graphic material to bump the rating up to a 15? We shall see, but one thing's for sure, one day all cinema certs will be advisory.
Sam Dyer, UK

I think the decision is a good one. I think that the BBFC have made a wise choice putting the advisory on 12 rated films only. As long as the British film censors do not decide to follow the American film ratings and make the higher ratings advisory, I have no problems with the decision. Making films not suitable for children aimed squarley at adults (15 + 18 rated) and then allowing kids to see with parents would just be plain stupid.
Iain, UK

As much as I hate being told what I can and can't watch, there are some legislations that are better kept then got rid of. I feel that 12A will make our child audiences more neutralised so that in times to come being able to shock or scare someone will have to entail graphic details and horiffic fight scenes. Why does the BBFC want to encourage this?
Charlene , England

I think it's a great idea. I work at a cinema, and the abuse you get from parents when you deny their children entry is ridiculous. Knowing whether a child is 11 or 12 is virtually impossible, and how many kids have their own I.D.? I'm very strict when it comes to I.D., and 15 or 18 is generally easy to judge. I'll continue to refuse entry if they're without an adult.

I don't enjoy denying entry, but it's my job. Now, some of that responsibility has been taken off my shoulders and put onto those of the parents. The right parents will consider a film carefully before they take their children. If they want to pollute their kids' minds then that's their choice. Thank goodness it is no longer mine!
Jodie, UK

Your instant guide parents!

U - tame/Star Wars/Disney- songs and cute creatures distract from violence.

PG - tame with one swear word, violence with no blood. Kids can see it anyway so who cares.

12/A- Sex with disrobing but no "acrobatics", violence with single bullet holes, two to three swear words. Or lots of running away from gunfire and not shooting back (Bond).

15- What 18 used to be - stacks of swearing, plenty of gunplay, but more s-words than f-words and a reasonable amount of realistic looking blood.

18 - What X used to be. Almost anything goes.

There you go! Apply as needed...
Kenneth Henry, England

The certifications do not bother me, what does is the decisions over which films should be classified as what. Things seem to be slipping year on year.
David Charlton, England

Never mind the ratings, I think adults and children alike could benefit from movies with less violence, bad language, explicit sex and better behaviour from so-called music icons. While we are at it, let's have the glossy mags depict people how they really look as well. Football too could do with a bit of a clean-up. The list goes on - we are what we watch!
Beth, Brunei

This should encourage more family outings to the cinema which is good news for children and the film industry. Parents are the best judges of what is suitable for their children's viewing.
Stephen Barr, UK

We have too many age restrictions - freer choice for parents could alleviate this.
Dave Brown, Scotland

How many children were crying when you went to the cinema to watch the PG rated Jurassic Park and the veloceraptor came through the ceiling? I'll warrant a few had sleepless nights afterward. The ratings system is a load of cobblers.
John Richards, UK

See also:

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