Batman Massacre: The Newest Excuse for Helicopter Parenting

Hi Folks! I was just reading this lovely essay by Will Doig in Salon about making cities more Free-Range, and out of the blue one  commenter wrote:

Imagine how upset a teenager in a nice suburban town was this week when his or her parents told them they could NOT go to a midnight showing of Batman down at the local cineplex. But that kid is alive and well today, thanks to their “overprotective” parents.

I imagine The Dark Knight will be used by many parents and politicians to justify keeping kids — including teens — at home or under constant supervision. Because, of course, any time a kid is NOT at home, he could be massacred by a madman at the movies. You can’t be too careful! – L.

108 Responses

  1. While I realize this was probably an isolated incident and therefore no need to fear my teenager attending the movies, as a HP, I do question why the theater had several infants, toddlers and pre-teens in attendance. These children should have been home in their beds at Midnight, regardless of the “special event”.

    My heart goes out to the victims families and friends.

  2. And since this nation’s insane gun laws will never change, I hear a lot of theaters are now banning movie-goers from wearing masks. Whew. I feel so much safer now.

  3. So what if an infant was at the movie! We routinely took our kids when they were babies to the movies. I was breast feeding them and they slept through them. As long as kids are well behaved I don’t see the problem of younger ones going to a midnight movie. I took our kids to a midnight showing of the last HP movie. It was a special treat for them.

    This was an isolated event this lunatic was going to snap and he chose to snap at a movie theater. I will continue taking my kids to the movie.

  4. By this logic, homeschoolers can feel holier-than-though that their kids weren’t at Columbine high; limo-taking businessmen can pat themselves on their backs for making a fortune so that they weren’t riding some lowly commuter train in Barcelona; and surely all of us can feel that we made some huge life decision that kept us out of those awful World Trade Center buildings on 9/11. I mean really, if all those greedy people hadn’t gone into finance in the first place…

    I understand that there’s a reasonable psychological explanation as to why parents feel the need to somehow prove that they would not be in the same situation. It’s self-protection. I also understand the emotional need to reassess risk in the face of a tragedy even if it defies the statistic probability of such a thing happening to you.

    Still, I can’t help but be upset by the number of people I’ve seen who can, in one breath, say “my heart goes out to the victims” while pretty much blaming them publicly for their own murders. Wrong conversation at the wrong time.

  5. I am afraid we are headed for a time of media navel gazing and overreaction that will inflame the fears of many. Crazy people do terrible things that are not preventable. Life goes on and it is still good.

  6. This will absolutely be used by local governments to justify teen curfews as well, despite the fact that the time of day that this attack happened had very little to do with anything. And as for helicoptering, there were children there WITH their parents, and that didn’t change anything.

  7. I was so surprised by the number of parents saying that the children and infants should not have been in that theater! Why does any child need to be at home in their bed at midnight? Especially an infant, who does not know or care whether it is noon or midnight, as long as mom is there to nurse them. Is there a much better chance of being shot in a theater at midnight than at noon? Are there statistics on this? They were with their parents for crying out loud!!! It is summer vacation, there is no school in the morning!!! To even suggest in any way that the parents of these children were negligent is outrageous! Had the parents left the kids at home with a sitter and something happened the same people would then say it was their fault for leaving the kids with a sitter.

  8. We often bunch together these “big media events” and convince ourselves that they happen often, more frequently, or are seemingly getting worse. We become convinced that there will be gun-wielding paychotic at every turn. It is so difficult as a parent, being soaked through the ringer by others’ judgements and fears, to stand up with confidence and see INTO the statistics of these situations and calm one’s self through the science alone (these events are rare, at best.) We need only help our children CELEBRATE and RESPECT life instead of be brought into fear of it through these (though tragic) rare scenarios.

  9. Let’s talk about being safe from gun violence at home. A 3-year-old here in Ohio fatally shot himself in the face this summer with a gun somebody in his family left on the television — where they thought he could not reach it. It may not be the focus of many urban free-range parents, but our children ARE in danger from guns — those in their own houses. 789 accidental gun deaths (both children and adults) per year in the U.S. (compared, say, with Germany — 13 such deaths out of a population of 81 million). If you live in a rural area like I do, make sure your children know never to touch a gun when visiting friends or any time at all.

  10. People have the mistaken impression that their kids are safer in cars than when going out alone because mom or dad is at the wheel, supposedly driving safely and preventing disaster. But no matter how safely you drive, you cannot protect yourself from all random idiots on the road, and just because you’re in the car with your kids it doesn’t necessarily increase their safety. (Especially if your phone is ringing, kids are arguing over the radio, etc.) They are still more likely to be hurt there than at a midnight movie.

  11. I do question why the theater had several infants, toddlers and pre-teens in attendance. These children should have been home in their beds at Midnight, regardless of the “special event”.

    While I do appreciate that this movie might not be appropriate for toddlers (a comment I make only if the parents allow their kid to disrupt the movie for everybody else), there’s no reason for you to say that children should NEVER be allowed to stay up late.

    It’s summer vacation. There’s no school in the morning. So long as they generally get the right amount of sleep, who the heck cares when that sleep is obtained? Talk about not your business!

  12. I can think of several special events my children might be out at midnight for: fireworks, bonfire on the beach, the carnival (the lights are so pretty at night), dirve-in movies, a wedding, and I’m sure there are many more. I can’t understand why a parent would deprive their children of all of these special events just because they happen at night.

  13. I can see it now; metal detectors and wands at all movie theaters, despite the fact that (I read this somewhere but can’t find the link at the moment) in the entire history of movie theaters there has NEVER been an instance of violence.

    I am fearful of flying (though I do, with anti-anxiety meds), and people always remind me how many thousands of flights occur every day across the world without incident. It’s the same with theaters – thousands of movie showings every day across the world without incident, and have done so for almost countless years. Yet I am sure that over-reactive decision-making will soon be the order of the day.

  14. http://www.cafemom.com/group/761/forums/read/16971043/Help_hubs_thinks_I_am_too_over_protective
    Check out this lady! Sandusky is her reason for not letting her 11yo son use public bathrooms alone.

  15. so, if I take my son to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, and heaven forbid someone starts shooting up my church, do I get condemned for taking my child to church, at midnight? These are arguments designed to distract from the real issue, which is that no one should have an unfettered,barely regulated right to purchase that much firepower of that type.

  16. I’ve been rather disturbed by the number of criticisms I have seen on various forums and articles about the parents who took kids to this premier. It’s the middle of summer, and no one could have predicted this kind of horrible event. Had this evil not happened, it would have been one night, the kids would have slept late the next day and been fine. And if they managed to stay awake through the movie, they would have a memory of something fun that so many other kids never get to do because they “should” be home in bed, and God forbid an exception is made! Wow. These parents made a personal family decision, which they had every right to do!

    The amount of judgment and criticism I have seen is insane. The ONLY person who did anything wrong in this whole situation is the shooter!!

    As for babies, provided they don’t scream through the movie and disrupt it for everyone else, it really doesn’t matter where they sleep, they can sleep anywhere.

  17. The only person responsible for the shooting was the shooter.

    One of my favorite memories is the time my sister, two friends and I got to go to the evening premier of Return of the Jedi. Dad had been given tickets but he and Mom hated movie theatres. My friend and I were young teens. Sis and her friend were preteens our friends spent the night because the movie got out so late.

    The parents who took these kids wanted their kids to experience something they enjoy. It is summer you get to stay up late. So many of my fondest memories involve the thrill of being up when you are “supposed to be asleep”. My Dad used that to make getting it the airport at 3 am for a 5 am international flight a thrill not a pain.

    You just plan for the next day to be a reset. My niece and nephew will probably be driving throught the night tonight for 15 hours. So tomorrow the plan is let them sleep till they wake up. Then I’m going to run them ragged zoo maybe water park, so they go to sleep normally tomorrow night.

  18. I hate the mindset that believes avoidance is a valid parenting technique, like a snow plow clearing the way so precious child can always be safe. But they are not. They will just find new ways (kids are good at this) to test their independence, whether it’s chat rooms online, sexting, or OD’ing on Mom’s prescription anxiety pills, all under your roof. Makes going to the movies look like child’s play.

    We went to the movies the morning after the Dark Knight massacre. I took 6 kids with the free movie passes to see Ice Age 4 (which was about overprotective parents, ironically) and consumed dangerous popcorn and overpriced Twizzlers in an empty theater. We were blissfully unaware of the “risk” of going to the movies as I rarely watch the news media circus. For once, ignorance is bliss. I got the “I can’t believe you went to the movies!” comments later and just countered them with “I can’t believe you drive your kids in a car!” reply.

  19. That commenter is not thinking clearly. There were still kids at that theater. WITH their parents. They still went through that event. WITH their parents.

  20. That commenter is right of course. Any kids that were not allowed to go to that particular movie that night were saved from a horrible event as a result. However to think not allowing your kids a social life is okay in order to save them from a very rare tragedy has its own negatives that parents need to consider and somehow those are never factored in.

    Perhaps all parents need a lesson in statistics and how the horrificness of a massacre has nothing to do with its likelyhood.

  21. Wait, does this mean that any kid can now use this line of reasoning to call CPS when their parents want to send them to school?

    “Officer, my Mom is trying to put me in mortal danger by sending my to an institution that’s so dangerous that everyone needs to get background checked and which get shot up by madmen on a regular basis.”

  22. Not to sound callous but 12 people died out of how many 100 at the theater? Yes it is super sad but it’s far from the worst tragedy we’ve seen recently. As was pointed out it’s very few compared to car accidents in Colorado. You’re right though, I’m sure people will us it as an excuse to be even more overprotective, if that’s possible.

  23. I work at a movie theater, and I noticed there was an abnormally low number of people going to the movies the day after the shooting. Since it was the day after the Batman premiere, not to mention a rainy Friday in July, we had a huge staff present to handle all the customers we were expecting to get.
    I spent most of that day chilling in the employee break room, wondering what the heck was going on with my coworkers. We were on the morning shift, so nobody had heard about the massacre until a customer asked us about it. I honestly couldn’t think about anything else the rest of the day.

  24. No infant nor toddler should be in a midnight showing of a movie. Not because of any inherent dangers (although I certainly don’t think the “danger” of a random crazy person shooting up the theatre could be considered inherent), not because of the movie’s rating, and not because children should be deprived of late night family outings, but because children that young are, no offense, nothing but an annoyance to other moviegoers. Fireworks and carnivals are a completely different animal, they are noisy, outside and naturally family friendly. I go to a movie theatre to watch a movie with as few interruptions as possible. I understand that some interruptions are goign to happen anyways (I counted 5 times when people at an evening screening of the Dark Night carelessly walked in front of the screen on their way to and from the restroom), but I hope to minimize these situations. I do not go to matinees because I understand that those are for persons with families (well, and those with senior discounts) and I do not want to be bugged by children during my movie. I would hope that the great vast majority of responsible adults know how impolite it would be for them to inflict their children upon persons attending late night showings of movies and who are doing everything in their power to avoid exposure to young persons. Maybe you disagree with this position. Maybe your children are perfect angels who can sit still for three hours without a potty break or sleep through a long, loud movie without crying. Maybe they are the special snowflakes you believe them to be. Unfortunately, I don’t believe it, and I don’t believe my children will be like that either. I will get them a sitter and enjoy my evening out without disturbing my movie-going neighbors.

    Oh, and to keep this response on topic, yes the commenter Lenore quotes is totally off base.

  25. And I just realized I misspelled the Dark Knight. My comics loving husband will never let me live it down…

  26. I think it’s going to be a bit crazy for a while. I’m sure the movie will be forever stigmatized by the event, which in itself, is unfortunate.

  27. I think Helimom, like a lot of parents and people in general, doesn’t seem to get that just because you would choose something for your kids, doesn’t mean that this is the only acceptable choice for any parent to make anywhere. If you feel your toddler should be in bed before midnight and should not be allowed to go to the movies at that time, I think that is perfectly reasonable and I would not question that decision. But if other parents choose to take their toddlers to the movies, and the toddler is not disrupting the experience for anyone else, that is ALSO perfectly fine for that family.

  28. I am not looking forward to listening to people moan about how “dangerous” our society has become because of this tragedy. And yes, parents certainly CAN take their kids to a midnight movie.

    But, the batman movies are really dark and scary and loud. I can’t imagine thinking that is a good combination for a toddler or young child.

  29. […] Free Range Kids – It is all about keeping your kids like you do your chickens. Not really. […]

  30. Well, in January 2011, a child died in the Tuscon, Arizona shooting that injured Gabby Giffords and killed several other people.

    I don’t recall that people in the aftermath of that tragedy voicing the idea that they needed to keep their kids away from Supermarkets on Saturday mornings.

  31. Ok Selby, I’ll bite. What “insane gun laws”?

  32. I think the judgment comes from fear. The thought process is “I would never let my kid go to a movie at midnight or to see this movie and therefore my child is safe.” People cannot stand the idea that the world is random and sometimes awful things happen to good people. They have to blame the parents for taking their kid to this movie or they have to accept the possibility that some random act of crazy could take their child away from them.

    This is why parents get blamed every time something happens to their child. Because if we can convince ourselves the parents are to blame in some way – and even prosecute the parents – then our kids are safe because these things only happen to bad parents and we are good parents.

    Westerners are also extremely spoiled. Having lived in a world where the notion of getting a babysitter for a night out is foreign for 7 months now, I find myself doing things with my child that I would not have done in the States. And nobody is outraged or judgmental – except the American contract workers – when you bring kids. And there are always other kids there. Other than bars, I have yet to find a place or event that the Samoans feel is inappropriate for children on general.

    And from what I’ve heard, the segregation of families and childless is fairly new even among the American contract workers. Many of the oldtimers have told me that up until a few years ago, kids were present at all the contract worker gatherings, even those that involved copious amounts of alcohol. Now gatherings are split completely down kid v kidless lines and rarely the twain shall meet.

  33. @Dave: “I am afraid we are headed for a time of media navel gazing and overreaction that will inflame the fears of many.”

    That’s a little late…about 50 years too late. When the extended news came to television there was a vast amount of time to be filled…and editorial judgement went out the window. The advent of multiple cable “news” channels made it worse.

    There’s less judgement in news coverage today than in many years; our society is the less for it.

  34. The last shooting in a theater that I can think of was when Lincoln was shot. This NOT something that happens all the time. I am sure that there have been small things that have happened – a guy who finds his girlfriend in her new boyfriend’s arms for instance, but really, this mass shooting type of thing is really rare.

    I have had the news off – my kids still do not have the ability (like many adults apparently) to be able to process how rare this is. No need for my kids to get all upset and think they can’t go places like the movies.

  35. Isn’t there some buried premise here that it matters more when children are hurt or injured, than adults? Since the teen was not allowed to go, that means one more adult got into the theater before they stopped ticket sales. Isn’t a wonderful thing that the other person got hurt or killed instead of that teenager?

    I realize the sense of “whew, I’m glad my child wasn’t hurt in that” is legitimate. But as an overall argument for not letting teenagers go, that just adds up to saying that it’s better when other people die instead.

  36. @ Becky – An OBNOXIOUS child should not be at any movie – matinee or late night. If a well-behaved child sitting in a theater with you bothers you, please do not have children. That you counted the number of times that someone walked in front of the screen tells a lot about your tolerance of others. Kids exist in the world and you simply have to live with that. I don’t have to cater to your adultness and desire to be outside the presence of children in public places by staying out of your self-appointed adult time. I simply have to respect others by not allowing myself or my child to be unusually bothersome. Crying, talking, yelling and wandering aimlessly around the theater should not be tolerated from anyone regardless of age. A 4 year taking a bathroom break during a movie is no more bothersome than a 40 year old – and my kid is much less likely to need to pee than I am.

    When my brother was a baby, we lived in a non-air conditioned house in Georgia. At least once a week in the summer, we’d all go to the movie to cool off for a couple hours – infant brother included. He “saw” more movies in his first 4 months of life than he has in the last 5 years combined. He was a BABY. He slept. He nursed. He occasionally watched the pretty lights on the screen. He did not bother a soul. Of course, if he had been crying we wouldn’t have gone and annoyed others but his mere presence should not be (and was not) an issue.

    I have many complaints about living in American Samoa. Being away from this overly spoiled American attitude that kids are unpleasant and unwelcome to anyone other than their parents is not one of them.

  37. Whether it was midnight or not is irrelevant. A crazy person could shoot up a morning matinee full of kids and their parents just as easily. A crazy person could crash their car into your house and kill your child right in his or her own bed. (This has actually happened in my city.) Yes, parents can and should take reasonable steps to keep kids safe, but the key word there is “reasonable.” Not allowing a teenager to go to a midnight movie in a neighborhood known for muggings and gang violence is reasonable. Not allowing a teenager go to any midnight movie ever is not.

  38. Some parents do have their children on their schedule, and that means bedtime is 2:00 am or later. Parents sleep and kids sleep all at the same time. This is really a safe way of doing things – less likely to have the toddler waking before parents and leaving the house and wandering. Parents might naturally be night owls, or they may be working a night job. Sorry, I like having nurses at the hospital at night. They should be able to go and do fun things with their kids too, not just only see each other when they are asleep.

    Kids in a theater at any time means that the parent should know their kid and be sure that their kid is not disrupting others. Personally, I like drive in theaters for the late night. Much less disruption unless some adult turns on the headlights.

  39. I took my baby to a movie once. It was Finding Nemo and he slept in his car seat the entire time except for a brief nursing break. A baby in a car seat does not care what the movie is, and they certainly don’t care if it is rated G or R!

    I had some friends who went to see the Batman movie the day after the shooting. Their bags were searched before they could go in. As if they’d have had time to concoct a plan and execute it hours after the news hit the news! Crazy.

  40. @ pentamom – That premise isn’t even buried. I read a few comments after an article about the victims. At least half of them that I read were about how tragic it was that a 6 year old died. It appears that only 2 of those killed were over 30 (and 1 of those just barely). The other victims likely have living parents mourning them who thought they’d get a whole helluva lot more years with their kids. Some may have children and spouses as well. All except one were very young and really just at the beginnings of establishing themselves and building their futures. They all lost many years of life that they should have had and the world lost contributions that they would have made. Somehow the grand total of 11 lives cut seriously short does not weigh up to the loss of a single life simply because the others lived to be 18.

  41. “Kids in a theater at any time means that the parent should know their kid and be sure that their kid is not disrupting others.”

    Exactly. I wouldn’t take my kid to a midnight movie because she is used to going to bed at 8:30 and would be a complete monster. It wouldn’t be pleasant for me, her or anyone around us. I won’t take her to see this movie because she’ll be bored, fidgety and annoying. That, in no way, means that ALL children should be banned from late or certain movies.

    I have night owl friends who live in a world that functions from 11am to 2am. Their kids included. A 9 or 10 o’clock, or even midnight on special occasions, movie would not be unusual for their kids at all. And they would behave at the same level they would at a 4:00 showing because they are not up hours past their bedtime.

    I wouldn’t want to show up at a midnight movie and see the theater FULL of young children as parents tend to adjust their level of acceptableness for their children’s behavior based on the company. However, that is also extremely unlikely to happen. The few random kids who come with their parents late at night are not a problem as long as the parents make sure it is not a problem and kids are removed if it becomes a problem.

    And if you can’t deal with the fact that people simply existing in your space are going to somewhat disrupt your concentration, stay home and watch the movie on Netflix. I can’t remember a single movie where nobody got up to go to the bathroom or get a snack and nobody commented to their companion and no cellphone went off unexpectedly. Momentarily distracting, yes. But such is life when you choose to go into public where other people exist. As long as the bathroom breaks aren’t happening repeatedly, entire conversations are not being had and the cellphone is immediately quieted, it is not something to get your knickers in a twist over.

  42. Jim Collins: I didn’t say that as bait, this isn’t a thread about the 2nd Amendment, it’s better we stay on topic.

  43. Beth echoed exactly what I am fearing–“prison” like security in theatres similar to what you in places like schools nowadays. I want NO part of it.

    LRH

  44. I think the issue with taking infants is the likelihood of them disrupting the rest of the audience, not the fact they shouldn’t be up that late. That’s why they have specific showings where babies are welcome – so everyone else can enjoy the movie in peace.
    Having said that, I think that if you hear of a gun weilding maniac shooting up a theatre and your first thought is what were those parents doing taking their kids there, you’re KIND OF focussing on the wrong issue…

  45. Thing I find interesting with Dark Knight (and this may explain some commentators comments) is while its US rating is PG-13, here in New Zealand (and I suspect in some other countries) its M-violence, so “More suitable for viewers over 16 years.” according to New Zealand censorship office. Here it has been marketed as a great movie for grown-ups, not one to take the kids to. Its not the midnight time slot I have problems with.

    @Jim Collins, by the rest of the OPEC nations standards US gun laws are nuts🙂 Mind you, tight gun control does not work on the determined nut job who has planned it over several months/years, its called the black market.

    This is a tragedy, no doubt about it. But its a rare event, in reality people are more likely to die in their car going to or from the movies. And sorry, but being there with them is not going to stop them being hit by a bullet, just means you might be too.

  46. Oh, and please remember that the rest of the world does not follow the US constitution, so we have no second amendment, this is not a thread for debating gun control, in the US, I was merely pointing out that US’s laws are liberal compared to most other OPEC countries.

  47. I raised two sons as a single mom after my husband decided family life wasn’t for him. Not having much money, there were times I had to take the dynamic duo along. One time it was the symphony, lol, but they knew they had to behave or they’d never go out again. Of course, if I could I got a sitter just so I could have alone time.

    That being said, too often now parents take their little darlings EVERYWHERE and outright ignore behavior that others would consider blatantly obnoxious – running around restaurants, kicking the back of airline seats, etc. Some will even smile indulgently with their “aren’t they cute” look and are outraged when it is suggested that they rein in their kids before a server trips over them and sends food flying. But of course it wasn’t the brats’ fault. And that is why I haven’t been to a movie theater in years. Rather than pay outrageous prices for a ticket and snacks, I’ll just wait for the DVD so I can watch it at home in my jammies with milk and cookies and the ability to rewind at will. No crowds, no screaming, seat-kicking, jumping kids, no CELL PHONES and no people talking through the movie.

  48. I’m not surprised this became about when kids should go to bed. I saw the same happen on another site.

    Parents decide.

    How come nobody says kids “shouldn’t have been there” when there’s a daytime shooting (which most are)? Come on. That is both ignorant and hurtful. How about rubbing salt in the wounds of a parent who lost a child?

    Personally I would not worry about my kids being out at 12am, because they would be fine (and they know that if they acted up, we’d leave instantly).

    I wouldn’t take them to an R rated movie at age 6, but again, that is my parenting decision based on what I know about my individual kids.

    I just deleted my mini-rant about mental patients getting clearance to buy guns, because it doesn’t belong here. But that’s often the elephant in the room when these things happen.

  49. I have friends and students affected by this shooting. I have colleagues whose teenage children wanted to go but didn’t for various reasons. Four students at the college in which I teach are dead. My neighbor girl has a friend who just got out of the ICU. Yes, we are glad we are alive and not dead, but is the shooting a reason to stop living? Do we cut out all pleasures? Or do we make a stand as a people and say enough already. Do what you believe in. Want gun control? Fight to limit firearms. Want to help the mentally ill? Fight to increase access to mental health facilities. Above all, let’s embrace the loners in our lives and make sure they have a place to go, people to talk to, before they booby trap their homes and shoot our children.

  50. missjanenc, I think what you’re describing is part of a bigger problem. Adults also have no sense of what’s appropriate behavior. About a month ago I was in church with my 5yos, who were under strict orders to be quiet etc. But the adults behind us were yapping through the entire service. Apparently they had a lot of catching up to do or something.

    I take my kids to restaurants fairly often. Usually they’re great, a few times I’ve had to take them out. But I’ve observed that no matter how many kids are around, usually the worst behaved patron is an adult. Sometimes a whole table of adults. It’s harder to teach young kids what “restaurant behavior” is when that is what they see in adults when they eat out.

    The obnoxious movie behavior you’re describing is more likely to be seen in adults. The whole talking on the phone thing – adults. Smokers tainting the air for everyone? Adults. Leaving disgusting messes in the restroom? Adults. At the July 4 fireworks this guy stood up with his tot on his shoulders, blocking several rows of people behind him, and apparently didn’t have a clue. Naturally some of those adults are encouraging their kids to be obnoxious too. But is it really an overall multi-generational culture shift?

  51. “Thing I find interesting with Dark Knight (and this may explain some commentators comments) is while its US rating is PG-13, here in New Zealand (and I suspect in some other countries) its M-violence, so “More suitable for viewers over 16 years.” according to New Zealand censorship office.”

    That is likely a result of different ratings systems. The choices in the US are PG-13 or R. While PG-13 is just a suggestion, R is mandated by law to exclude those under 18. They cannot enter the theater unless a parent is with them – parents can’t even buy tickets and send the kids in without them. While I personally probably won’t take my 6 year old to see this movie, I see absolutely no reason that most teens can’t go see it without mommy holding their hands. But then I feel like that about most movies.

    And even if you believe that it is inappropriate for your younger children, who cares? First, you don’t get to decide what is appropriate for other people’s children. Second, viewing a few inappropriate movies (because mom didn’t realize how inappropriate or because circumstances dictated taking the tyke) is not going to substantially alter your life. I’m sure that this man had more issues than going to see a Batman movie at 6. Third, it is irrelevant to the issue which is A PERSON SHOT 70 PEOPLE IN A THEATER!!! In light of the situation, who the &%& cares about the appropriateness of the damn movie!!

  52. @Donna, my comment was in response to the numerous other comments about why commentators on other sites were slamming having a 6 year old at the movie, I was just pointing out that in other countries (not all internet commentators live in the US) the rating is different, and they may not realize that in the US it was a PG-!3, a rating that taking a 6 year old to is not unreasonable. Heck, we were shocked knowing what the New Zealand rating was (and we do have PG ratings), until we discovered what the US rating was.

  53. @ catspaw – No most of the commentators I’ve seen were US residents. Says so right next to their name on their posts. They are well aware that the movie is PG-13 and what that means.

  54. And my point was that I don’t care if the parents took their child to see the XXX version of 50 Shades of Gray. Who cares what people, inside or outside the US, think about the parent’s movie choice in this situation. 12 people are dead and many others injured in a completely unforeseeable tragedy. If your first, second or hundredth thought after reading about this tragedy is to blame the parents for their movie choices, you are more inappropriate than the movie.

  55. Horrible, horrible incident. Could theoretically happen anywhere, at any time of the day or night. I have no issue with well-behaved children at midnight movies (but agree with the one poster who said they avoid matinees b/c of the kids. I wouldn’t take my younger one to an evening movie; I’d be pretty sure he’d annoy the people who spent a chunk of change!). I am sort of surprised, though, that people have become so blase that they think it’s normal to take a young child (babies nursing don’t count) to a really violent movie. Here’s the CommonSenseMedia review, if you’re interested. They are a pretty middle of the road nonprofit who provide parents with the information needed to help them impart their own family values to their kids (with their help, we understood that it was okay for our 10 year old to see The King’s Speech).
    http://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/the-dark-knight-rises
    I think FreeRange parenting does not mean you let your kid see any movie out there no matter what their age. Or read any book (my mom the teacher could never get her head around the latter notion – she didn’t think about books like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Gray which are only appropriate for adult audiences).

  56. Hi Donna, know this is completely off topic, not sure what the site looks like streamed from the US, but from where I am there is no actual reference to where people are posting from. I thought people only knew I was in NZ because I said so – how ‘located’ are we? For example, does it say what city we are in….?

    Just in case ‘somebody’ decides to track me down……:-). Paranoia via the ‘net!

  57. @Donna, when the first media reports came out (and it was early Saturday afternoon here), there was no details of age, or gender of anyone, my first, second and third thoughts were Oh heck, what a tragedy, I hope they have the gunman, we didn’t know one of the dead was 6 till the news last (Sunday) night. So in no way do I blame any parent for anyones death, I blame the nut job with the gun.
    And I never said it was inappropriate for anyone to be at that movie, with its US classification, I do believe I said its reasonable to take a 6 year old to a PG-13.

  58. If they start putting metal detectors at the entrances to all movie theaters or doing TSA-style patdowns, my movie-going days are at an end.

    As for children and teens in theaters at midnight, why is that such a horrible thing? It’s summer. There’s no school the next day. So why should they be excluded from a fun late-night event?

    The teen curfew thing is even worse because it makes it seem like the teenagers themselves are horrible criminals for being out after 11 PM when the criminal in this case was in his 20s. Why not have a curfew for everyone under 30 in that case?!

  59. A good friend of mine made a comment today that stuck with me, and while she later felt it might seem a bit selfish (and she apologized and explained her point of view later), it makes sense.

    “All it takes is one deranged lunatic to ruin the fun & tradition of dressing up in costumes to go to the movies. That madman will singlehandedly do for cinemas what 9/11 did for airports.”

    It is up to us as FRP’s to explain to our kids that they do NOT have to be scared of having fun and following some of their own fantasies. there will always be 1 more deranged gunman somewhere, but the chances of the 2 of you being in the same place at the same time are so remote that it is not worth putting your life on hold “just in case”.

  60. Today I sent my sister to the IMAX with my kids. She told me later that a movie was the last thing she wanted to attend after the Colorado incident. I pointed out that if we take that attitude about everything that can possibly hurt kids, kids will be ruined. Especially considering how many of these incidents happen in kid-friendly, daytime gathering places such as schools.

    She said she still can’t help worrying. I said, I believe we all have our time to “go,” and we can’t know when that is until it happens. So I don’t worry about “what might happen” when, for example, I am on a plane in lots of turbulance, or find myself walking alone at night in a not-so-friendly place, or a nasty storm comes up. Either it’s my time or it isn’t. Either way, nothing to worry about. Why would the same not be true of my kids?

  61. there will always be 1 more deranged gunman somewhere, but the chances of the 2 of you being in the same place at the same time are so remote that it is not worth putting your life on hold “just in case”.

    AMEN.

    “Either it’s my time or it isn’t. Either way, nothing to worry about. Why would the same not be true of my kids?”

    and AMEN again.

    For me, it’s a matter of acceptance, of life and all of its uncertainties. People who said, “Well, it was God’s will,” used to infuriate me at one point in my life, now, even though I use different words, I think it’s the same sentiment.

    We can take action, and make plans, but we just don’t control the outcome. We don’t control the outcome. We don’t control the outcome.

    One of the essential human needs is predictability. It comes up a lot for us folks, we like it when what we expect to happen does happen. However, my need for predictability has come to be met just by the sheer fact that life is predictable in only one way: that it will always, always be UNpredictable. So I can rely on that. What I expect to happen, well, I can expect that often, it won’t happen. And that’s predictable!

    People who imagine that their kids are protected from harm because they are planning their plans and taking their actions are placing themselves above the Universe and all its workings. I don’t think that’s where we belong. We’re in partnership with the Universe, we are responsible for our own actions, but we don’t control the outcome. Yeah, I already said that!

    My heart is with those who mourn the loss of their loved ones in this tragic shooting incident.

  62. Marcy, thank you. My thoughts exactly.

  63. Donna, are you sure it’s a matter of law that forbids unaccompanied underage people in R rated movies? I thought it was a voluntary standard of the film and theater industries.

    At any rate (and I know this is a really minor point, but just for clarity) in the U.S. the age to be allowed to attend R rated movies unaccompanied is 17, not 18.

  64. You know, Betsy, most kids simply won’t read books that the kids feel are inappropriate for them. It’ll make them uncomfortable and they’ll either skim over the parts that aren’t appropriate or put it down entirely.

    Of course, I’m of the opinion that if they don’t do such a thing, it’s probably not going to harm them to read it.

  65. This is a bit OT, and a bit of a nitpick, and I realize that Will Doig is on the side of the angels on this one, but, did he HAVE to write it this way?

    “That a kindergartner was allowed to toddle four blocks without adult supervision seems extraordinary now, even though cities are at least as safe for children today as they were then.”

    The imagine of toddling kindergartners takes back with one hand half of what he gives with the other. Of all the ways he could have chosen to write that, why on earth infantilize 5 and 6 year olds??? Kindergartners DO NOT toddle, and putting that image in people’s minds just undercuts the larger, better message.

    I know you can use a phrase like “toddle” just for a cute effect, and most of the time, that would work. But here, where the very point being made is that kids need age-appropriate space and independence and the circumstances that provide that are good for us all, it’s just a shot in the foot.

  66. Uly, maybe we can rephrase Betsy’s point like this:

    “I think FreeRange parenting does not HAVE TO mean you let your kid see any movie out there no matter what their age. Or read any book…”

    Yes, some of us will differ on the degree to which we should limit these things for our kids, if at all. That’s a parental judgment call. But I think the larger point here is that Free Range isn’t “about” letting your kids read or watch whatever, it’s about other things. And frankly, I think that was Betsy’s point — not that Free Rangers have to control such things, but that controlling such things (within reason) is compatible with Free Range because Free Range doesn’t “mean” not doing so, regardless of the varying opinions of various Free-Rangers about it.

    Fair?

  67. While I agree that parents should be able to be the primary decisionmakers for their children, I disagree that babies and young children should attend midnight shows. Ann’s children (and others) may have slept through movies, but I have been at later shows where children have cried because they were afraid, they whined because they wanted to know when it would be over, and the light from their electronic devices they played because they were bored were annoying to those around them. (Not to mention, many parents will not remove a disruptive/fearful child because, darn it, they spent good money to be there.) If your city has curfew laws, your teen shouldn’t be at a midnight movie unless they are accompanied by you. If the movie is intended for people over 14, you should take your younger children to earlier shows where they won’t disturb those old enough to be there on their own.

    Getting back to the point of the story, and NOT to diminish the severity of the situation…This is so typical of a certain type of parent: take an isolated situation and create mass hysteria. There is potential for copycat situations in the coming weeks, because these things seem to bring out that element. However, I can’t remember too many situations where people have been shot in a theater, aside from the obvious few…People are shot on expressways, and yet I take the expressway when I go to the city. People have been shot in malls, yet I still shop in malls. People are shot in public schools, and yet I teach in one. It would be a completely different situation if people were holding their children back from settings where there is a clear likelihood of injury or death (who would tell their kid to run across a busy highway?), but this is an example of a man who was dangerous, not an environment that is dangerous.

  68. I don’t think that anyone is upset per se that children are out at midnight but more so is this an age appropriate movie for kids to be viewing? No matter what time of day, I wouldn’t take my 6 year old to this movie (or let them watch it on DVD).

  69. 3 separate reactions:

    The saddest commentary in this whole tragedy is those blaming parents for having infants in a late night movie. If you baby is waking up every 3 hours to feed, what difference does it make? Talk about blaming the victims.

    As a teenager we went to lots of midnight opening movies. It was an event and fun. We would sneak in some booze and have a grand old time. Curfew laws are another example of parents abdicating their parenting responsibilities by creating legislation so they don’t have to be the bad guy.

    As for gun laws being insane, how about the fact you can but a 100 round clip? And yes, I understand the 2nd Amendment and I think it should be repealed. The holy Constitution also says black people are 3/5ths of a person and that Senators should be elected by a form of electoral college. It is not sacrilege to change it. And this is different than curfew laws because I can’t protect myself against someone with a gun.

  70. FWIW, the local theater around here has a policy that no children under a certain age (I forget what) will be allowed in R rated movies after a certain time (i.e. in the evening.)

    That’s a policy that the theater chooses to set. It’s up to them. That seems reasonable — calling for a total ban on the practice seems unreasonable, but theaters deciding whether they want to lose the business of people who want to bring their young kids to late R-rated movies for whatever reason they think will have some benefit also seems appropriate.

  71. Interesting comparison to note is that the 11 people killed in the auto accident in Texas is not receiving anywhere near the excitement of the movie theater massacre. One less death, but exponentially less outcry.

    People dying in cars is okay, expected even? But people dying in a movie theater because of a lone, deranged gunman is a reason to change one’s lifestyle? Makes a good comparison, however, to point out to those who are now afraid to go the movies… but not afraid to drive.

  72. I am opposed to making any changes in the Second Amendment. There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: Soap, Ballot, Jury, and Ammunition. Please use them in that order.

    What often amazes me on this forum is that people will cry and cry over the police escorting their free-range children home from the park, yet they vote for politicians that advocate for these exact sort of policies for both children and adults!

  73. Several years ago, my 13-year-old niece was shot through the throat and killed by a guy who opened fire IN A CHURCH. (Google Wedgewood Baptist Church shooting 1999.) This does not mean that she should not have been at church or that churches are dangerous. Statistically speaking, they’re really quite safe. Nor does it mean that her parents had done anything wrong by letting her go. Thankfully, the media did not paint it that way, either. Wonder if they would now, since 9-11 has happened or if they’d be too afraid to since it was a church. Either way, the logic still stands. She was no less safe in that particular building than she was at home. Her parents are not to be faulted to allow to go to youth group that night. It was a tragic but rare event.

  74. It’s been a year (the anniversary was yesterday, July 22) since a gun-man slaughtered 77 teenagers that were participating in a youth camp on an island in Norway. Hundreds were injured. They had nowhere to go so it was, indeed, a massacre. Pure and simple. Camps with various themes are common during the summer. This happened to be the social democratic youth association which was what the gun man considered to be, and still is convinced, to be a legitimate target. Earlier in the day he had, as a diversion, blown up a car bomb in the Oslo parliament district. He’s convinced he’s saving Norway from subversive multi-cultural forces. This being the first step in a revolution. Initially most speculated that it was a terrorist attempt by any and all islamic organisation. It was an ultimate chock to realise that the man is as norwegian as you can be.

    A trial has been held. The verdict is still out.

    Most surely no one had expected a youth camp to be subject to a massacre. I live in Sweden, where we have been spared multiple gun deaths. There has been a few where the perpetrator has gone beserk. Nothing close to the Utöya-massacre a year ago has never happened. It never crossed anyone’s mind that it ever would.

    Now, the youth camp this year was, for obvious reasons, not going to happen. At least not this year, and most probably not on that island for a few more years. Yet, what prevails is not fear. It’s fighting. Fighting against hate and whatever makes people go to a youth camp and slaughter 77 teenagers or enter a movie theatre and kill 12 people, injuring even more.

    By not going to a movie theatre in the future, or participate in a youth camp, would allow for fear to win. For not realising that it’s the exemptions that defines the rule. People are mostly good with no desire or intention to harm anyone. To assume the opposite would create a terrible society.

  75. Sorry guys, but there have been numerous studies that show direct unmistakable correlation between the amount of violent shows and movies a kid is exposed to and the amount of violence and aggressiveness they end up displaying in their life. So call me judgemental-because I am in this situation- but young kids have no business watching aviolent PG-13 movie, regardless of what mommy and daddy think they can “handle”. Do a google search on violence among youth rising and you will find all sorts.of statistics backing up what I’ve just said. For instance in Boston the violence among youth has TRIPLED since 2002. I know I personally am seeing a lot more young kids at these types of movies. And before anyone whines that they or their kids watched violent movies and nothing bad ever happened, or that it can’t possibly be caused only by violent media, I know there are other contributing factors and that obviously it won’t turn every kid into killer, but common sense should tell intelligent folks that these types of movies aren’t meant for little ones.

  76. I’m resisting the temptation to get wordy about kids and violent movies.

    I would say that if my kid were of KG-primary age and did not have enough understanding to be negatively impacted by hours of watching senseless violence, I’d be worried for my child’s cognitive development.

    My kids do watch heavy stuff, but I always talk them through the intense parts so they can make some sense of them.

    That said, I can understand how a parent would be blindsided by how inappropriate today’s movies can be.

  77. SKL, you bring up an interesting point. However they have actually done studies where the parents were right there with the childen explaining the bad stuff and who did so on a regular basis. Guess what? Overall those kids STILL had a higher incidence of agressive behavior and violent tendencies as they grew up. (versus the control group who’s parents did not allow them to watch violent shows at a young age) They fared slightly better than the group with parents who did not sit with them, but only slightly. And these were kids of similiar average to above average intelligence – which incidently has nothing to do with criminal behavior. Thre are many jail cells filled with people of high IQs. Now allowing a small child to watch a violent movie once in a while will probably not doom them to a life a crime, certainly. But my question is why do the need to watch it? At 5 years old, isn’t it sufficient for them to know that there may be bad things in the world and bad people- that are rare, of course. But to realisically witness killing and bloodshed (yougotta admit these movies can be VERY realistic looking), seems not only pointless but they gain nothing good from it and they have an increased risk of aggression and nightmares and worst of all they eventually become desensitized to evil. Why not wait until they are older to expose them to such gore? What’s the benefit of doing it so young?

  78. @hineata – I got into a words war with a spammer years ago via .. oh crap, it’s been so long that i’ve forgotten what they were called.. kind of message boards that you downloaded to your computer. All I had was his email address. Turns out years ago my brain still functioned clearly, and was able to track him down. All I did was report him to post office and his isp for ponzi schemes. I’ve met several people I’ve met online in person – one turned out to be from the small town I’m in, her husband’s sister still lives here. Although I’ve not had any nutcases yet, that is not to say they’re not out there. I guess I’m the eternal optimist,🙂

  79. CO LDEMs (non nurse midwives) have killed more babies at home birth last year, as well as the year prior, where’s the outrage? These are almost all preventable deaths, and are many more than the state of national average.

    http://skepticalob.blogspot.com/2012/07/colorado-homebirth-midwives-are.html

    I guess guns killing babies is much more newsworthy. sad.

  80. @hineata, I’m not sure what Donna is seeing either. I’m in the US and I see nothing next to people’s posts that say where they are from.

  81. I can only control what my child is exposed to – and even then, only to a certain extent (how many of us watched movies at friends’ houses that we knew we’d never be allowed to see at home? That’s how I saw Dirty Dancing, lol!) So I feel for the parents who allowed their children to go to this movie. I’m sure they’re upset enough and (in the case of the 6 year old and any other young children that died) that they’ll second guess that decision for the rest of their lives. They don’t need my judgement, or anyone else’s. They have to live with their own judgement, and I’m sure it’s harsher than anything I could bring to bear.

    That having been said, I remember going to the Blair Witch Project, and having a terrible time because the idiots in front of us brought a 3 year old, who spent 3/4 of the movie weeping into his chair, both because he was scared, and because his father was contemptuously deriding him for being scared. It was awful, for so many reasons.

  82. hineata – Sorry, I didn’t mean on this blog. I meant the numerous comments on the news article about this incident – many of which are filled with posts attacking the parents for taking their children to this movie. CNN, Yahoo News, etc. all generally have the city that the poster is from next to the name. Here, I just generally know where people are from because it’s been mentioned along the way.

  83. For instance in Boston the violence among youth has TRIPLED since 2002.

    We’re in a recession, Sam. We expect crime to increase when income decreases. The crime rate in Boston is STILL lower than it was when I was a kid.

    Correlation does not equal causation. In this case, there are many possible causes that might be influencing the rate of violence among youth.

  84. “Donna, are you sure it’s a matter of law that forbids unaccompanied underage people in R rated movies? I thought it was a voluntary standard of the film and theater industries.”

    I really don’t know. I do know that it is enforced by theaters which makes me think that there must be some penalty for not. Maybe I’m too cynical but I can’t imagine theaters regularly turning away 15 and 16 year old kids with money if there wasn’t a real impetus for doing so.

    Either way, R is not treated the same as PG-13, PG or G. PG-13 is just a rating; you are not denied entry into the theater if you are under 13. Most theaters have signs up that say they require ID for R movies and I’ve seen teens carded and turned away. Whether law or not, the age is taken seriously for R and is completely meaningless for PG-13.

    And you are correct. It is 17 for R and 18 for X. Not sure why I thought 18 other than it has been way too many years since I needed to worry about getting into an R movie.

  85. Apparently, you can’t take you kids to the movies OR the playground.
    The comments blaming the parents for taking this boy to a playground just prove that our youth is expected to be under house arrest.
    So sad.
    http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/07/23/12903602-4-year-old-boy-shot-dead-on-nyc-playground?pc=25&sp=275

  86. “but I have been at later shows where children have cried because they were afraid, they whined because they wanted to know when it would be over, and the light from their electronic devices they played because they were bored were annoying to those around them.”

    And I’ve been at EARLY shows when kids did this and was equally annoyed. The issue is taking kids to movies that are inappropriate for them, not the time of the movie. If the child is afraid of a movie, he is not going to less afraid at a matinee. Likewise, those kids who are bored.

    Taking your kids to movies when they are going to distract other patrons because the movie is inappropriate for them is NEVER acceptable and ALWAYS rude. Just because I decide to catch a matinee of Dark Knight doesn’t mean that I have signed-on for scared kids crying and bored kids chatting and playing their DS. Parents should only take their children to see movies appropriate for them. I may not agree with a general standard of appropriateness for every child, but that doesn’t mean I think that every child should be able to go to any movie, any time regardless of the impact on others.

  87. Uly, from the article I read on Boston -ony one of many- it said that crimes amongst adults have actually decreased a bit. It’s the fact that adult crimes are decreasing and crimes amongst youth have tripled that raises eyebrows. Since the adult crimes are decreasing, we really can’t blame it on recession.

  88. Sam, correlation is not actually the same as causation. Could it be that watching violence causes violent behavior? Or do naturally aggressive kids seek out violence in their entertainment while less naturally aggressive kids shy away? I think the later is very likely. My child is not remotely aggressive and also has absolutely no interest in watching violence. And this is not through my rules. I have very few limits on what my child can watch.

    “And these were kids of similiar average to above average intelligence – which incidently has nothing to do with criminal behavior. Thre are many jail cells filled with people of high IQs.”

    Actually, IQ has much to do with criminal behavior. There are certainly some jail cells filled with people of high IQs, however, the vast majority of criminal defendants are of average or below average intelligence. I don’t think having lower IQ means that you are more inclined to be a criminal, but it tends to lead to lower incomes, more impulsive behavior, less ability to rationalize consequences and a greater possibility being taken advantage of and left holding the bag. Cases like this one do tend to involve people of higher intelligence but cases like this are the extreme rarity in the criminal justice system. Most cases of violence are spur of the moment, impulse crimes, not massacres months in planning.

    I can almost guarantee that mental illness is going to be a factor in this case. He did not do this because he watched too many violent movies as a child. He has some serious mental defect.

  89. If there is truly a rise in crimes among youth, it is caused by the fact that crime is being broadly defined, not movies. When most of us were kids, childhood “criminal” matters were dealt with privately. You got into a fight at school, you got suspended and punished at home. Stole something from the store? You were made to return it and apologize. You had to do something serious to be taken to juvenile court and branded a criminal.

    Today, anything you do gets your butt hauled into juvenile court and branded a criminal. Skip school too much? Juvenile court. Get into a fight at school? Juvenile Court. Stay out past curfew? Juvenile court. Get caught having sex? Juvenile court. I’ve represented a 9 year old who got into a fist fight at the bus stop. A 7 year old who burglarized a building (by entering a half open door and playing inside). 10 and 11 year olds charged with arson who started a fire in a field that subsequently burnt down houses the kids couldn’t see from where they started the fire and had no idea existed. If you brand every misbehavior be children a crime, you are going to have a huge increase in crime among children.

  90. I’ve said many times that there are many factors that lead to agressivness in youth. I never said the only reason this guy commited this crime is because his parents allowed him to watch R rated movies as a kid. All I’m trying to say and ask is WHY allow a small child to be exposed to filth and gorey violence when the only proven effects are negative? That’s the question no one has been able to answer because the answer is that there is no good reason. It saddens me to see so many kids with no limits set on what they are exposed to. They are treated like mini adults and being exposed to so many adult things so young. It’s sad to see their childhood and innocence taken away. I realize it’s an old fashioned opinion, but parents used to allow their kids to roam the neighborhood while at the same time protecting their innocence. Now it seems to have flipped with kids locked up indoors and being exposed to all kinds of trash.

  91. By the way, I toally agree with you on how kids are being criminally charged with making typical childhood mistaked too often. Very sad.

  92. Sam, I never said I thought it was a good idea for my kids to watch violence and gore at age five. When I said they’ve seen “heavy” stuff, did you jump to a conclusion? Heavy things they’ve watched would include It’s a Wonderful Life, Scrooge, The Ten Commandments, and West Side Story, among others. Heavy because of the seriousness of what’s going on, not because there is blood everywhere.

  93. It is interesting, the original Indiana Jones came out before the PG13 rating was instituted, so it is just PG. The other two are PG13. Yes, my son has seen two of them, with strategic pauses for popcorn where unknown to him scenes were skipped. (I know you can’t do that at the premier in a movie theater.) Yes, Indiana Jones is THE example, along with Star Wars, of violent boy movies that all the young boys want to imitate. And really, I don’t think it is bad. If they weren’t imitating that, it would be the cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians of my youth. Most, (not all) boys enjoy being the person in power who is smart, witty, strong, handsome and can get out of any scrape.

  94. Sam, except that these negative effects are simply not proven. Correlation does not prove causation no matter how many times you try to assert that it does. And there are so many factors that go into aggression and criminal behavior – some nurture and some nature – that can’t be completely corrected out of the equation so whether there is truly a CAUSATION, instead of just a correlation, will likely never be answerable. You could certainly ask since there is no definitive proof that violent media doesn’t have a negative effect, why let kids watch it? But that is really the extent of the question.

    My answer is that everything is determined by the person involved. I have no expectation whatsoever that my child will become a criminal because I took her to see Spiderman last week. And my life doesn’t revolve around making sure that my child is not exposed to something that may possibly correlate to negative behavior in some children but that my child doesn’t have a single hint of manifesting. That doesn’t mean that I regularly take my kid to violent movies, but I’m not going to worry or stress about hypothetical effects of them either. If I had a child who reacted violently or negatively after viewing such movies, I would make different choices.

  95. I thought of this too when I saw it on the tv. The first time I went to a movie alone with firends was in the sixth grade it was a huge theater. Now most theathers aren’t as big and when I ever I go in to a theather I look for all the exits and entrances and try to sit in a good place near the same entrance that I came in near the stairs. I’d like to say that if something like what happend, happend to me I’d be on the floor or out the door with my mom and friends glued to me. The one thing I don’t understand is that how could the people really have though it was part of the movie, you’d miss scenes in the movie by watching the side show plus they don’t allow smoking in theathers so any kind of smoke object should have been a first warning sign. But then again I can say this because it’s happend and I wasn’t there. It’s just a terrible thing that I know is gonna cause problems for kids. It’s just not right in any way.

  96. SKL, when I said 5 and ws talking about gore I was simply picking a random age (kids at the Batman Movie were around that age) and talking about PG-13 movies in general. I wasn’t at all referring to your kids, who aparently don’t watch PG-13 movies at young ages anyways, which means we’re on the same side. 🙂

    Donna, if you can’t fathom that gore and violence could possibly negatively affect a youbg child, then I suppose you woukdn’t bother teaching your child any sort of values and letting her draw her her own conclusions. After all, you can’t SCIENTIFICALLY prove that just because a parent tries to instill a sense of right and wrong in a child it does any good. Sure there are studies that prove parents who spend more time with thir kids, playing, reading, eating dinner together, etc., have kids who turn out better with less problems. But, like the violence studies, it could just be these kids are programed to turn out better. It could be their school teachers that influenced them. As for me, I’m going to use my God given common sense and not take my 5 year old to violent PG -13 movie because to me, it’s obvious to have only negative effects while when I read her Raggedy Ann Stories and listen to her tell me about the fairy she almost caught while I tuck her in and kiss her good night is obvious to me to only have positive effects. It’s all about common sense. Something that apparently many folks today are lacking. 😦 And for the record, I do not think anyone should be prosecuted or there should be blanket rules not allowing young children in to see PG -13 movies. But just because I’m a free range parent doesn’t mean I can’t believe in poor parenting choices. I know some people on here honestly believe that ANY decision a parent makes for their child MUST be the right one because “they know their kid best”. But common sense tells you that we’re human and everyone makes wrong choices every now and then. And certain things are just wrong. The Dark Knight Rises is a VERY violent movie with strong language and I just can’t believe ANY young child has any business watching it.

  97. Crazycatlady, certainly taking a mild PG-13 movie and speeding through the worst scenes would be a great compromise for a kid who realy wanted to watch a certain movie. Simply because you have taken a PG-13 movie and downgraded it to a PG. That shows smart parenting. 🙂

  98. I definitely delayed the PG and PG 13 movies a lot longer than many of my friends did, and didn’t take the kids to a theater at all until they were 4 and 5. My philosophy was that they came up with enough violent stuff on their own, simply by being boys (our poor Thomas the Tank Engine characters suffered mightily at their hands). I didn’t need to add to the fire. Another reason though is having something to look forward to. When we finally did take them to see Curse of the WereRabbit in the theater, it was a really big deal for them. They were ‘big kids’ now – old enough to be trusted to sit still and not talk during the movie. They still to this day remember their Very First Theater Experience with fondness. And we have kept theater experiences as rare treats to keep it special (and because it costs ten arms and a leg). Kids don’t need to experience everything before age 4. There’s nothing sadder than a jaded first grader with nothing new to experience because they’ve already been to Disney, and Europe, and every movie that ever came out, and American Doll, and etc. etc. etc. Granted, this is more of a problem among some of the wealthier folks in our suburb, but I worry about the effects on the kids. If I take them to too many ‘wow’ experiences, then the ordinary ‘wow’s (like a walk in the woods) are no longer good enough.

  99. @CrazyCatLady, I would say that Indiana Jones and Star Wars have a very different kind of violence. Star Wars is completely out of this world and Indiana Jones is quite remote as well. Even Harry Potter is magical violence. TDKR however is more realistic in its setting.

    It’s up to parents to decide what is appropriate for their children and also to educate their kids on right and wrong. Actually it’d probably be good for parents to discuss the movie with their kids afterwards (or TV shows etc). Movies don’t create bad people but I think it can be one of many factors that influence people.

    What happened was a horrible tragedy. And so were the other lives also lost that day through car crashes, illnesses, accidents etc.

  100. “If I take them to too many ‘wow’ experiences, then the ordinary ‘wow’s (like a walk in the woods) are no longer good enough.”

    BMS – I so agree with you.

    And to agree with another commentator further up, I don’t go to the movies anymore either. Badly behaved kids at movies are what did it for me. I got tired of the crying babies, the wandering kids and the fights that erupted (verbal) between the people that had come to watch the movie without kids and the people who were there with their non-stop talking, wandering, crying kids. My kids at 6 and 3 would be fine in a G rated movie where talking and fidgeting is the norm but nothing beyond that. Used to be you went to an evening movie to avoid the kids, but now they are in all the movies, whatever the rating and whatever the time.

    As far as infants at the movies – I thought the noise level in these movies was beyond what babies are supposed to be exposed to? I know sometimes I have covered my ears in some movies they were so over the top loud.

  101. “if you can’t fathom that gore and violence could possibly negatively affect a youbg child”

    I never said that. I said that an occasional Batman movie doesn’t negatively affect ALL young children, even in the short term. I also said that an occasional Batman movie doesn’t have the long term affect of increasing aggression and criminal activity in even MOST children.

    “I know some people on here honestly believe that ANY decision a parent makes for their child MUST be the right one because “they know their kid best”. But common sense tells you that we’re human and everyone makes wrong choices every now and then.”

    No, I don’t think a single person here has ever said or implied that. Clearly, every parent absolutely makes wrong choices for their child every once in awhile. Parents are human. They make mistakes. For example, if I take my child to Dark Knight thinking she is up to it and she is then up all night with nightmares, I clearly made a mistake. She is not going to suffer lifelong trauma from it – people are simply not that fragile – but it was a mistake nonetheless that I can learn from and use in future movie choices.

    That is a HUGE difference from judging people’s well-considered decisions that make everyone involved happy as wrong because … well, they just are. If the kids are happy and flourishing and the parents are happy and flourishing, then it was the right decision for that family, regardless of what Sam thinks.

    While you refuse to accept that maybe this was a proper choice for this particular family, I don’t discount the idea that the parents of this girl made a bad choice. I simply don’t know based on the only fact that I have – that she was present in the theater. I don’t know if she would have enjoyed the movie or if she would have been terrified. I don’t know if she wanted to see the movie or was drug out of bed, cranky and tired, against her wishes. I just see no point in judging strangers in the negative.

    For the record, I have not taken my child to see Dark Knight nor do I have any intention whatsoever in doing so. The thought never even crossed my mind. But that is a personal choice, not a choice that I think every parent of every 6 year old in the world must make in order to be judged a “good” parent.

  102. I would have to agree with Sam and some of the others on here. I would worry most about the young child who was NOT negatively impacted by seeing someone murdered on screen. If you have a child like that, then I would CERTAINLY worry. (Not that your child will necessarily become a criminal, but that they may not grow up to be the compassionate, emphathetic human being most parents hope their kids will become.) Even knowing that it’s fake I still am bothered watching another human being being tortured or killed. I would imagine a normal, emphathetic, 5 or 6 year old SHOULD be upset witnessing a realistic looking scene like in most PG-13 movies. (It’s not like the fake cowboy movies from the 50’s anymore.) So in my opinion, if you have a normal small child who is bothered by watching realistic looking murders then why stick them in front of a screen to watch another human’s life being taken away in a bloody torturous manner? So it makes it seem like a bad parenting to allow that child to sit in front of a screen to witness realistic torturing and killing. Likewise, if you have a little child who isn’t bothered by it, it would seem to me like a bad choice to allow that child to continue to be desensitized by violent media, as well. And don’t even get me started on noisy kids in adult movies. Anyone who claims their 2 year old is a perfect quiet angel for 3 hours during a violent adult movie is dealing with a needle in a haystack or most likely disallusioning themselves. And I completely agree with Kim in that the decibel level of movies have risen dramatically over the years and I doubt most violent adult movies are safe for an infants sensitive ears. It has been scientifically documented in many theaters that they, indeed, are not safe.

  103. http://www.center4research.org/2010/07/media-kids-and-violence/

    This is one study that shows the “emphathy theory” isn’t just my own, just in case someone tries to claim it is. For anyone who doesn’t have time to click on the link, it has been proven that after watching a violent movie, people are less emphathetic – such as helping someone up who has fallen.

  104. While what happened last week in Colorado was indeed tragic, I’d like to pipe in on a few things,namely:

    a. the late hour issue: I have no issue with the occasional late night event for kids. I don’t think that in itself was the main issue (for me, anyway). However, unless your child behaves reasonably well,. keep him or her home. I don’t want to go to a movie to hear crying babies or have obnoxious, oversugared kids who can’t sit still, or scared kids. Which leads me to:

    b. the subject matter: sorry, but the “Batman” movies are a bit too dark and violent for most kids and pre-teens. I go by ratings/subject matter, and don’t think this would be appropriate fare for my 8 y.o. to be viewing, regardless of what hour it’s being shown. I remember (none too fondly) of seeing “Jurassic Park” with my DH at a theater years ago. A very upset 4 y.o, was at the movies with his parents (and yes, it was a 10 p.m. showing — kid was most likely tired as well). Sorry, but bad call on the parents. Either get a sitter or take your child to a movie that the WHOLE family can reasonably enjoy.

    c. the overemphasis on child victims of a tragedy: again, not downplaying the senseless loss of life here, but all lives, yound AND old, are valuable. They may be somebody’s child, parent, friend, lover, spouse, colleague, neighbor. I hate it when the news media, jumping on the tragedy bandwagon, has to overemphasize the loss of just the children. (And I’m a parent, and yes, if that was my child who was killed, I’d be devastated. I’d also be devastated if my husband, or parent(s) or sibling or friends were killed as well.)

  105. I’m going to start a slightly different topic. I read on ABC News that Holmes failed an oral exam in college, then dropped out before shooting up the theater. Could this be an example of a young person who couldn’t cope with failure perhaps because of the “everyone gets a trophy for showing up” syndrome that currently plagues schools, which keeps children from learning to cope with failure?

  106. Reblogged this on Wolf Howls and commented:
    When everyone gets a trophy, no one wins.

  107. Anybody, please do not hesitate to pray to God to take James Eagan Holmes’ life, so people will not suffer any longer. Please pass it along.

  108. I don’t think anyone intended to blame the parents in any way by pointing out the age of the child that died (6 y.o). At least I certainly hope not. However, I myself, was rather shocked when the media identified such a young child as one of the victims. And yes, it’s because I was surprised that anyone would take a child that young to see that movie because in my opinion it’s totally inappropriate for that age. I don’t think that that constitutes blaming the parents for the child’s death. Just a personal observation that I voiced because I didn’t expect such a young victim. And I assume that’s what others were simply pointing out too. Stating your feelings or surprise at this doesn’t mean you blame anyone but the nutjob for that child’s death.

    And I’m glad that we are numerous who believe that life, with it’s inherent risks, has to continue without irrational fear. Last night at 9:15 pm after we had gotten home from baseball practice and my boys were showered and in jammies I asked “Who wants to go to the movies and see The Avengers?”
    Them: “When?”
    Me: “Now!”
    Them: “But we’re in pyjamas”
    Me: “So? Get changed.”
    Them: Really?!”
    Me: “Yep! But hurry the movie starts at 10 o’clock”

    And off we went. Got home after midnight. The boys loved this special unexpected treat. And the funny thing is that the tragedy in Colorado never even entered my mind before or after. It was “cheapie Tueday” and we just decided at the last second to go out.

    No disrespect to the victims, but awful random things do happen and we can’t allow ourselves to be paralyzed and stop enjoying life. I know it’s cliché, but then the nutjob wins. Screw him.

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