Children’s Participation Rights in Film Classification Systems

Note: This article was published in The International Journal of Children’s Rights:

If you do not have access to the publication, below is the submitted version of the article.

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2017 | doi 10.1163/15718182-02502005

Tim Covell

Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada


Film classification helps countries meet their obligations to protect children under Article 17 (e) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Classifying films is an administrative proceeding that affects children, by limiting and setting conditions on what they can view. Therefore, children should have their interests represented or otherwise participate, as required by Article 12. This paper researches the degrees and methods of child participation in film classification systems, primarily by a survey of agencies. Based on data from 22 agencies in 17 countries, 73% have some degree of child participation. This ranges from providing a web site for children, to children’s panels reviewing and discussing classification for pre-screened films. Comparison with other international data sets suggests countries with a high degree of child participation in film classification are those which are generally making good progress implementing children’s rights.

1.     Introduction

Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (the Convention), specifically Article 12, children have the right to participate ‘in all matters affecting the child’ and ‘shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body.’ Participation rights are typically discussed in the context of matters such as education, health care, and adoption and other judicial proceedings.[1] However, the letter and spirit of the Convention is that children participate in all matters that affect them. This includes film classification, the process that many countries use to set age ratings or classifications for films. Film classification determines whether or not children may view a film, whether or not there are age restrictions on which children can view, and whether or not children can view an age-restricted film if accompanied by an adult. As such, film classification is an administrative proceeding that should include the opportunity for children to be heard. To determine if this participation right is being respected, I researched the extent and methods of children’s participation in film classification, primarily by surveying a number of agencies. This paper reviews the results of that survey, and finds that most agencies have some degree of children’s participation in film classification.

With children in many countries facing the denial of such basic and essential rights as health care and education, the question of whether or not children are involved in determining which films they are permitted to view may be considered relatively trivial. It does not attract the attention of child right’s advocates or get featured in state parties’ reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.[2] Children’s participation in film classification is also an overlooked question in the field of film studies.

However, precisely because it is a matter that does not warrant national or international attention, the degree of children’s participation in film classification may be a good marker of a country’s commitment to genuine participation. This paper compares film classification participation to other international comparisons of children’s rights implementations, to determine if that is a reasonable assumption. And while participation in film classification may be seen as a less important right, the Convention does not suggest some rights are more important than others, or that participation be limited to specific areas (Covell and Howe, 2006).

2.     Challenges and Benefits of Participation

Obtaining children’s participation in film classification poses challenges. Article 17 (e) requires that state parties ‘encourage the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her well-being.’ In other words, the existence of film classification is required to respect children’s rights. Film classification agencies exist in many countries, and compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 17 (e) may require creating them where they do not exist. For example, in 2000, the Committee raised the question of whether a censorship board might be required in the Marshall Islands, to protect children there from harmful films (UN Committee, 2000 a).

A conundrum exists in that protecting children from material in films limits their participation rights in the agencies that set age limits for films. An argument might be made that child participation in film classification is against children’s best interests, as it may expose them to harmful material. However, participation rights in all matters are a moral and legal obligation, and are ‘an integral part of the best interest’s principle’ of the Convention (Covell and Howe, 2006, 25).

Several countries, in their state parties reports, indicate taking measures to encourage film making with the well-being of children in mind, in order to meet their obligations under Article 17 (Access to Information), though this usually does not go as far as children participating in film classification. For example, Denmark reported that the government granting agency for film production would ‘employ a children’s film consultant for the feature film field and a children’s film consultant for the short feature and documentary film fields’ (UN Committee, 2000 b, para. 95). France reported that ‘young members of the public’ make up part of the Commission for Film Classification, however this information was incidental, in the context of indicating how France fulfils its obligations under Article 17 (UN Committee, 2008, para. 234). Involving children in the classification of completed and foreign films is another way to further their access to information, as well as their help ensure their freedom of expression (Article 14), is respected.

Projects such as Rights Respecting Education in Hampshire, England, have demonstrated the benefits to children, institutions, and society at large when children’s rights, including the right of participation, are respected.[3] Increasing children’s participation in film classification systems is likely to have similarly positive outcomes for children, the agencies, and, provided the film industry listens to and addresses the expressed concerns of children, the film industry and films themselves.

3.     Film Classification History and Practice

Film censorship is as old as the film industry. During the 1890s, French and American inventors developed film cameras and projectors, and one of the first known incidents of film censorship occurred in 1894, in the United States. Local politicians viewed films being exhibited to the public in a resort area of Ashbury Park, New Jersey. They declared one of the films unsuitable for the average summer tourist, and demanded its removal from the program (Tropiano, 2009). During the next two decades, in cities all over the world, police, city officials, moral crusaders, and newspapers prevented or tried to prevent objectionable films from being shown. As films became longer, and started to be shown in purpose-built auditoriums, there were growing concerns about the moral and physical hazards of people gathering in dark places to watch all manner of images. At the same time, the rise of state and national exchanges for films replaced the older system of selling individual prints, and centralized distribution. National agencies gradually took over censorship from local bodies, and set and enforced standards for the buildings and the films (Dean, 1981; Tropiano, 2009; Loiperdinger, 2013).

Protecting children was usually the primary stated justification for censoring films, with protecting women sometimes a secondary justification. Various studies proved the harms of films and theatre attendance for children, finding increased nervousness, declining eyesight, and lack of sleep, and claiming that children reacted more emotionally than adults (Sklar, 1994). A 1922 book noted that ‘There is an undoubted effect on standards of conduct resulting from the fact that the audience, often young boys and girls, are packed in narrow seats, close together, in a darkened room’ (Young, 1922, 6). The book went on to quote a warning from an earlier medical text:

No one considering the effect of moving pictures can neglect the possibilities for bad behavior which occur through the darkness of the hall in which the pictures are shown. Under cover of dimness, evil communications readily pass and bad habits are taught. Moving picture theatres are favorite places for the teaching of homosexual practices (Healy, 1915, 308).

Protecting children usually meant ensuring all films were “family friendly.” The requirement to be family friendly was broadly interpreted, and any films that did not meet this vague standard were cut or banned. Children were the justification for censorship, but protection of society at large was the goal of many censors.

In some jurisdictions, such as the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, there were limits on the attendance of children, but this concerned physical safety, not morality, and did not change the requirement for films to be family friendly. Ontario did not allow unaccompanied children to attend any film except on Saturdays during the day, and only if the theatre hired ‘a matron … whose duty it shall be to supervise the conduct of such children and of adults toward them’ (Ontario Theatres and Cinematographs Act, RSO 1927, c 285). In 1928, Quebec banned children from attending films in theatres, following a fire that killed seventy-eight children, however children could see films in church halls, or theatres that ignored the law (Dean 1981).

Adult only classifications were tried as early as 1914, in Chicago, then under municipal censorship. This was abandoned a few years later, as some of the adult films were considered disrespectful to ‘marriage and women’s virtue’ (police testimony quoted in Sklar, 1994, 130). In 1920, Belgium established voluntary classification for films where the intended audiences would include persons under 16, as a way to institute film censorship under a constitution that prohibited it (Biltereyst, 2013). Age (and gender) restricted showings were required for films about sexually transmitted diseases in the 1920s and 30s (Dean, 1981). Canadian agencies occasionally classified films as suitable for adults only as early as 1935, and in 1946 the Canadian province of Ontario introduced age classification for all films (Wise, 2000). This is one of the earliest routine uses of age classifications. Most censorship agencies have now shifted from requiring all films to be family friendly to using age classifications, with restrictions or parental accompaniment provisions, instead of cutting and banning.

This shift changed the primary role of the agencies from censorship, ensuring films were suitable for everyone, to classification, determining whether or not some or all children could view films. However, some agencies retain the legal right to ban films and other materials, or are still charged with protecting morality, sometimes in opposition to constitutional freedoms. For example, in 2004, the Ontario Supreme Court (Canada) declared film bans unconstitutional and ordered the provincial government remove that power from the film classification agency (R. v. Glad Day Bookshops Inc., 2004 CanLII 16104 (ON SC), The government refused, citing the need to protect women from potentially harmful films (Ontario Hansard session 38.1, February 15, 2005). The British Board of Film Classification, which has the responsibility of enforcing age verification at adult websites (a child protection initiative), has indicated that it will also limit the portrayals of some sexual acts that are restricted to adult viewing, and that are not necessarily criminally obscene (Gayle, 2016).

While the bulk of most agencies’ work involves determining appropriate age classifications for children, the additional censorship powers of many agencies, even if rarely exercised, mean that within and outside of the agencies, they are not always seen as existing primarily for the benefit of children. In addition, film classification agencies may be under government departments such as justice, tourism, economic development, cultural promotion, or consumer affairs – anywhere except child welfare, even though this is their nominal focus. As one analysis of multiple agencies reported, ‘Most often, protecting children is the explicitly stated rationale for operating content regulation schemes, providing for community tastes and interests is second and provision of education and information is third’ (Brand, 2002, 17). The perceptions of these agencies, their multiple roles, and their low profiles deep in government bureaucracies, are factors than can lead to limited participation of children in film classification systems.[4] However, limited participation is contrary to the Convention.

As noted, most agencies no longer cut or ban films, but distributors may voluntarily cut a film to receive a lower age classification, on advice from an agency. Some agencies classify only theatrical film releases, while others classify all films, as well as home video, electronic games, online services, and/or other media. This research considered classification of theatrical film releases, however most agencies follow the same process for all media they classify. The number of classifications, the ages, and whether the classification is an advisory, a requirement for adult accompaniment, and/or an admission restriction, are different for every agency.

As an example, Kenya has a relatively simple scheme. There are four classifications, covering three age groups: GE – Suitable for all ages, PG – Advisory for children, 16 – Advisory for children under 16, and 18 – No admittance for children under 18.  Norway’s complex system has more graduations, especially for younger children, for both accompaniment and admission restrictions. There are six classifications, covering six age groups: A – Suitable for all ages, 18 – No admission for children under 18; and 6, 9, 12, and 15. Each of the latter four classifications requires adult accompaniment for children under that age, and 9, 12, and 15 respectively prohibit children under 6, 9, and 12.

The general worldwide trend in film classification, driven in part by the greater accessibility of films and other media in the home via television, home video, and online, is to have a larger number of age levels and classifications. This allows classifications to more closely match material to children’s ages and stages of development, however it also places greater reliance on children’s chronological age rather than a parental assessment of their maturity. This makes it even more desirable to have children participate in the classification process, so that the maturity of children of various ages is recognized and considered.

4.     Existing Studies

Research examining rating systems in individual countries tends to address problems with the operations of the systems, such as ratings creep (Thompson and Yokota, 2004; Leone and Houle, 2006; Leone and Barowski, 2011), bias against some films (Waguespack and Sorenson, 2011), and the lack of evidence-based decision making (Walsh and Gentile, 2001; Büttner, 2005). The question of public participation is rarely addressed, let alone the participation of children. International studies of ratings systems are rare.

In 2002, Jeffrey Brand, of Bond University in Australia, prepared a report for the Australian Parliament which summarized the rating systems of twenty-two countries (Brand, 2002). That report noted if agencies received input from public groups or industry groups, or both, but did not address input from children. The New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification has conducted studies comparing classifications between New Zealand and five other jurisdictions: Australia, Ontario (Canada), Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States (Ward and Talbot, 2013; Talbot 2014). These studies focus on outcomes, and do not provide any information on the participation of children in the systems. I have compared classifications between the agencies in Canada and the United States (Covell T, 2015). This work considered public input, but did not address input from children.

Given that the question of children’s input into film rating systems has received very little attention, the primary purpose of this research is to provide a cross-national assessment of the current situation. Based on those findings, a secondary purpose is to attempt to identify whether there is any relation between child participation in film classification and the state’s overall compliance with the Convention.

5.     Methodology

Agencies were located by online searching, and from data provided by Brand, Ward and Talbot, and Talbot (Brand, 2002; Ward and Talbot, 2013; Talbot 2014). Thirty agencies, representing twenty-five countries, were identified, and twenty-nine contacted, all by email, using the contact information or contact form at their web site (refer to the Appendix for the list of countries contacted). Japan’s Film Classification and Rating Committee, EIRIN, was not contacted, as the English language version of the site did not have contact information, and contact information could not be located on the Japanese language version.[5]

In Canada, film classification is a provincial or territorial responsibility, not a federal one. Not all provinces or territories require film classification, and some use the classification of other provinces. As a result, Canada has six agencies performing film classifications. Each one was contacted. Switzerland had classification at the canton level until 2013, and two cantons, Ticino and Zurich, continue to use their own classification systems (Commission nationale du film et de la protection des mineurs, Only the national system was contacted.

All agencies were sent the same email, requesting general information about how the agency obtains public input, particularly from children and youth in light of Convention Article 12, and acknowledging that obtaining input from children can be challenging. The email noted that some agencies obtain input by showing members of the public unclassified films, but this is not an option with children and youth, as it may expose them to inappropriate material. However, other ways to obtain input might include surveys and sessions in schools, and any information about this was requested. The emails were sent in November of 2016, and the responses received by February of 2017. Survey results were supplemented with information from agency websites.

Agencies were ranked from 0 to 3, where 0 indicates no participation by children or representation of their interests, 1 or 2 indicates passive or indirect participation, with 2 being a greater amount, and 3 indicates direct participation of children in reviewing entire films. Passive or indirect participation methods are those which acknowledge children as customers of the agency and allow some input into the process. These include websites dedicated to children, surveys, social media monitoring and participation, and school presentations about the classification agency.

6.     Results and discussion

Of the twenty-nine agencies contacted, nineteen (65%) responded. France, The United States, and Korea did not respond, but information was obtained from France’s reports to the UN CRC Committee (UN Committee 2008), and from the agency web sites for the United States ( and Korea ( Considering the nineteen agencies that responded to the survey, and the three additional agencies included using data from other sources, about three quarters of the agencies have some degree of participation by children.

Some agencies noted that the concerns of children are addressed through experts in various fields, or that the classifiers are parents, and therefore understand the concerns of children. The MPAA did not respond, but that agency requires classifiers to be parents. Relying on parents is not considered input from children for purposes of this research. Parents may not have a good understanding of how children perceive film content, and consequently parent focused systems such as the MPAA may consider what is offensive to parents rather than what is harmful to children (Wilson et al., 1990). Similarly, reliance on experts does not necessarily represent input from children. When a religious, anti-pornography, artistic freedom, or similar expert or group present their concerns to a film classification agency, they may have a greater interest in promoting their concerns than in representing children’s interests and respecting children’s rights. However, an expert such as a Children’s Commissioner, as recently consulted in New Zealand, is considered as obtaining input from children.

On reviewing the survey responses and other information, the agencies were ranked as follows (refer to the Appendix for full details):

  • 0 – No participation: 6 agencies (27%)
    Australia, Nova Scotia (Canada), Manitoba (Canada), Ontario (Canada), Switzerland, and the MPAA (United States of America)
  • 1 – Limited participation: 5 agencies (23%)
    Korea, Hungary, Singapore, Hong Kong, The Netherlands
  • 2 – Moderate participation: 3 agencies (14%)
    Quebec (Canada), British Columbia (Canada), the United Kingdom
  • 3 – Extensive participation: 8 agencies (36%)
    Alberta (Canada), New Zealand, France, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark.

Some agencies with no or minimal input from children noted that parents are responsible for determining what their children watch, and the purpose of the agency is to inform parents of film content. Other low ranked agencies stated that their regulations do not require or permit public input, or input from children. Budget constraints were also mentioned.

Agencies with limited participation typically maintain a web site for children, or conduct surveys or other research on children’s media consumption. The Netherlands noted that their system is intended to advise parents, but at the same time does maintain a web site for children. The Netherlands has no restrictions on films for children ages 16 and up, two years below the age of majority, which raises the question of whether children there are adequately protected as per Article 17.

Agencies with moderate participation conduct school workshops with children, in addition to  maintaining a web site for children, conducting surveys or other research on children’s media consumption, or having an active social media presence. The United Kingdom provides all of these methods for children to participate.

The agencies ranked 3, extensive participation, have classification screening panels consisting of children or youth, viewing pre-screened films and discussing the content with members of the classification agency, in schools or at the agency’s screening facilities. Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have conducted joint research regarding film classification for pre-school children. Sweden has no restrictions on film attendance for ages 15 and up, and again this raises the question of whether youth there are adequately protected under Article 17. New Zealand has a long history of consulting with ad hoc groups for potentially controversial films. For example, the agency consulted with the LGBT community regarding Girls Lost (Pojkarna, Alexandra-Therese Keining, 2015), which may have been a factor in classifying this film at a lower age group (13+) than it was classified in nearby Australia (15+) or the United Kingdom (also 15+). In their responses, the agencies with significant input from children usually expressed a strong children’s rights focus and an awareness of their obligations under the Convention.

On reviewing the agency web sites, it is apparent that agencies with a stronger children’s rights focus are more likely to communicate directly with youth in their promotional materials. For example, in 2009, the Ontario (Canada) agency, ranked 0, sponsored a competition for college students. The goal was to develop a Public Service Announcement which would promote the agency.  The content of the winning announcement is addressed directly to parents, and the restrained formal tone suits that audience. The closing line is ‘Know what your kids are watching’ (Ford, 2009). British Columbia (Canada), ranked 2, held a similar competition a year later. The winning entry features lively animation and a catchy tune, and encourages all film goers to ‘find out what it’s classified’ (Blakey, 2010). In 2014, New Zealand, ranked 3, released a series of Public Service Announcements to promote the film classification agency. Two of the five are addressed directly to youth, and model appropriate decision making based on respecting age classifications (New Zealand, 2014).

The results of this research are encouraging. The current situation is that most film classification agencies in this sample have some form of participation, and a significant number have extensive participation. A variety of methods are used to ensure participation, while pre-screening protects children from exposure to potentially harmful materials.

7.     Film Classification Participation as a Measure of Children’s Rights Implementation

As a previously unstudied area, it is worth considering if there is a relation between the participation of children in film classification systems and overall progress implementing children’s rights. This would help demonstrate the value of further research in this area. As noted by Emily Munro and her colleagues, in their report on the circumstances of children leaving care in fifteen countries, international comparisons of child welfare are difficult, in part due to the limited number of international data sets (Munro et al., 2011). Given the limited amount of data, this research considers only that report, and a comparative report considering legal implementation in twelve countries, as sources for validating the results, while acknowledging that any conclusions based on these two data sets are tentative.

Munro and her colleagues compared circumstances of children leaving care in fifteen countries, including the following countries in this research: Australia, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. They note that children leaving care has ‘a very low profile in the UNCRC reporting process,’ which it shares with children’s participation in film classification systems (Munro et al., 2011, p. 2419). Their analysis placed countries in one of three groups, depending on whether references to children leaving care were substantial, brief, or non-existent.

Norway and the United Kingdom, with substantial references, also ranked high for film classification participation. Australia and Sweden made brief references; for film classification participation these countries were low and high, respectively. Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, and Switzerland had no references, and with the exception of Germany these countries also were lower for film classification participation (the average rank of Canada’s six agencies is 1). On the whole, the results of Munro’s study are similar to the results of this research.

A 2012 UNICEF report from Laura Lundy and her colleagues considered legal implementation in twelve countries, including the following countries in this survey: Germany, Norway, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. The report does not directly compare countries, but does summarize each country’s progress on the issue (Lundy et al., 2012).

Germany, Norway, and Sweden are praised for strong implementation of children’s rights, and they also received high rankings in this research. New Zealand is identified as having uncertain progress in some areas, but the high ranking in this research suggests film classification is one of the areas where progress has been made.

In contrast, Lundy describes Australia as not having ‘a culture of children’s rights,’ though good participation in decision making is noted (Lundy et al., 2012). The assessment of the culture is consistent with the low rank for film classification participation, and it appears the noteworthy participation in decision making has not reached film classification. Canada is identified as a poor performer for the legal implementation of children’s rights, and this is consistent with the lower ranking provinces, and the relatively low average. As with Munro’s study, Lundy’s conclusions are similar to this research.

For differences among Canada’s six agencies, a source for comparison is Covell and her colleagues’ research on the implementation of the Convention in Canada (Covell et al., forthcoming). They note that while Canada’s overall progress is poor, Quebec leads in many areas. This is consistent with Quebec’s higher than average ranking. Alberta has the highest level of children’s participation in film classification, which is consistent with other recent significant progress in implementing children’s rights. Finally, the United States of America, the only country to not adopt the Convention, has no children’s participation in the film classification system.

8.     Conclusion

Overall, the data suggest that not only is a high level of children’s participation in film classification systems possible, and practiced in many jurisdictions, but that as a general rule it is practiced in jurisdictions that have embraced a culture of children’s rights. With this understanding of the current situation, and the demonstrated value of investigating children’s participation in film classification systems, future research in this area could ask specific questions to obtain more details about the various methods used, validate the involvement claimed, and make greater efforts to reach agencies in other countries and other languages.

9.     Appendix

Agencies Contacted Responded Rank 0-3 Reason for Rank
Alberta (Canada) X 3 School screenings and discussion of trailers at elementary and high schools, social media monitoring and participation, and a recent project involving a youth panel (14+) viewing complete films.
Australia X 0 Children do not participate.
British Columbia (Canada) X 2 Workshops at high schools, and active participation in social media.
Canada (average of provincial agencies) X 1 Refer to individual agencies.
Denmark X 3 Children’s classification panels for the age classification levels of 7 and 11.
Finland X 3 Children’s classification panels for different age classification levels.
France 3 Youth members of the Commission for Film Classification (UN Committee 2008).
Germany X 3 Screenings for different age groups, and research studies involving children ages 3-17.
Hong Kong X 1 Surveys youth from age 15.
Hungary X 1 Media literacy program, Magic Valley, operated by the same agency that operates the film classification system (
Korea 1 Web site for children (
Manitoba (Canada) X 0 Children do not participate.
Netherlands X 1 Web site for children (
New Zealand X 3 Active social media presence, school screenings and classification sessions at high schools, research, current consultations with teens and planned with younger viewers, and a recent consultation on youth engagement with the Office of the Commissioner for Children.
Norway X 3 Children’s panels for the age classification levels of 6, 9, and 12.
Nova Scotia (Canada) X 0 Children do not participate.
Ontario (Canada) X 0 Children do not participate.
Quebec (Canada) X 2 Surveys of youth, and film workshops at elementary and high schools.
Singapore X 1 Surveys of youth starting at age 13, and research on media consumption habits of children from birth to age 14.
South Africa
Sweden X 3 Surveys of youth, and children’s panels for the age classification levels of 7, 11, and 15.
Switzerland X 0 Children do not participate.
United Kingdom X 2 Research, school teaching sessions, social media presence, and a web site specifically for children (
United States of America (MPAA) 0 No children’s participation, as per the agency website (

10.  Reference List

Biltereyst, D., “Film Censorship in a Liberal Free Market Democracy: Strategies of Film Control and Audiences’ Experiences of Censorship in Belgium”, in D. Biltereyst and R. Vande Winkel (eds.), Silencing Cinema: Film Censorship around the World (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Blakey, S., Rated Argyle (Vancouver: Consumer Protection BC, 2010).

Brand, J., A Comparative Analysis of Ratings, Classification and Censorship in Selected Countries around the World (Australia: Centre for New Media Research and Education, Bond University., 2002).

Büttner, C., “The Protection of Minors Against Harmful Media Content in Europe: How European Film Classifiers View Childhood and Adolescence”, Nordicom Review 2005, no. 1 (2005): 121–30.

Covell, K., and Howe, R. B., The Challenge of Children’s Rights for Canada (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2006).

Covell, K., Howe, R. B., and J. C. Blokhuis, The Challenge of Children’s Rights for Canada, 2nd edition, (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, forthcoming).

Covell, T., Film Classification in Canada and the United States: The Freedom of Government Control? Master’s thesis. (Ottawa: Carleton University, 2015).

Dean, M., Censored! Only in Canada: The History of Film Censorship – The Scandal Off the Screen (Toronto: Virgo, 1981).

Ford, C., No Guidance (Toronto: Ontario College of Art and Design, 2009).

Gayle, D., “UK to Censor Online Videos of ‘Non-Conventional’ Sex Acts”, The Guardian November 23, 2016.

Healy, W., The Individual Delinquent: A Text-book of Diagnosis and Prognosis for All Concerned in Understanding Offenders (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1915).

Leone, R., and L. Barowski, “MPAA Ratings Creep”, Journal of Children and Media 5, no. 1 (February 1, 2011): 53–68.

Leone, R., and N. Houle, “21st Century Ratings Creep: PG-13 and R”, Communication Research Reports 23, no. 1 (June 1, 2006): 53–61.

Loiperdinger, M. “Film Censorship in Germany: Continuity and Change through Five Political Systems”, in D. Biltereyst and R. Vande Winkel (eds.), Silencing Cinema: Film Censorship around the World (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Lundy, L., U. Kilkelly, B. Byrne, and J. Kang, The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: A Study of Legal Implementation in 12 Countries, (London: UNICEF-UK, 2012).

Munro, E. R., J. Pinkerton, P. Mendes, G. Hyde-Dryden, M. Herczog, and R. Benbenishty, “The Contribution of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to Understanding and Promoting the Interests of Young People Making the Transition from Care to Adulthood”, Children and Youth Services Review 33, no. 12 (December 2011): 2417–23. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.08.025.

New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification, “Our Video Public Service Announcements”, New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification News (Wellington: OFLC, 2014).

Sklar, R., Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies, rev edition (New York: Vintage, 1994).

Talbot, H., Comparing Classifications: Feature Films and Video Games 2012 & 2013 (Wellington: Information Unit at the Office of Film and Literature Classification, 2014).

Thompson, K. M, and F. Yokota, “Violence, Sex, and Profanity in Films: Correlation of Movie Ratings With Content”, Medscape General Medicine 6, no. 3 (July 12, 2004).

Tropiano, S., Obscene, Indecent, Immoral & Offensive: 100+ Years of Censored, Banned, and Controversial Films (New York: Limelight Editions, 2009).

Waguespack, D. M., and O. Sorenson, “The Ratings Game: Asymmetry in Classification,” Organization Science 22, no. 3 (June 1, 2011): 541–53. doi:10.1287/orsc.1100.0533.

Walsh, D. A., and D. A. Gentile, “A Validity Test of Movie, Television, and Video-Game Ratings”, Pediatrics 107, no. 6 (June 1, 2001): 1302–8. doi:10.1542/peds.107.6.1302.

Ward, K., and H. Talbot, Comparing Classifications: Feature Films and Video Games 2010 & 2011” (Wellington: Information Unit at the Office of Film and Literature Classification, 2013).

Wilson, B. J., D. Linz, and B. Randall, “Applying Social Science Research to Film Ratings: A Shift from Offensiveness to Harmful Effects”, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 34, no. 4 (September 1, 1990): 443–68. doi:10.1080/08838159009386754.

Wise, W., “History of Ontario’s Film Industry, 1896 to 1985”, Take One June 22, 2000.

Young, D., Motion Pictures; a Study in Social Legislation (Philadelphia: Westbrook, 1922).

United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (a), Summary Record of the 660th Meeting – Initial report of the Marshall Islands (United Nations CRC/C/SR.660 30 November 2000 GE.00-44726 (E), September 29, 2000).

United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (b), Periodic reports of States parties due in 1998 – Addendum – Denmark (United Nations CRC/C/70/Add.6 31 March 2000 GE.00-41239 (E), September 15, 1998).

United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Third and fourth periodic reports of States Parties due in 2007 – France (United Nations CRC/C/FRA/4 21 February 2008 GE.08-40766 (EXT), 11 September 2007).

[1] See, for example, UNICEF Office of Research- Innocenti, The Right of Children to Be Heard: Children’s Rights to Have Their Views Taken into Account and to Participate in Legal and Administrative Proceedings,; UNICEF, The Convention on the Rights of the Child – Participation Rights: Having an Active Voice,”

[2] Keyword searches of state parties’ reports posted online at United Nation Human Rights – Office of the High Commissioner – CRC ( found references to film classification systems in several countries, but usually in the context of child protection under Article 17 (e). These systems were occasionally mentioned where they play a role in limiting child pornography, with regard to Article 34.

[3] Several case studies and reports are available at the Hampshire County Council website:

[4] Some agencies are operated by industry groups or non-profit corporations, but are responsible for enforcing film classification laws in their jurisdiction. The American MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America – Classification and Ratings Administration) agency is an industry group with no legal responsibilities or authority, as there are no film classification laws in the United States.

[5] The author is grateful to all the agencies that responded, and particularly to those that had to translate the request and responded in English.