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To be angry that a 12A certificate film is shown to primary children in school

(101 Posts)
Mishap Sat 24-Nov-12 12:48:51

My GS has been having nightmares and is dreadfully distressed by having been shown the film Warhorse at school. He is 9 years old and the film is a cert 12A.

My DD has been dealing with his distress and with a raft of questions about war and why it happens - his faith in adults has been shattered and he is very insecure after this.

My view is that this sort of material about man's inhumanity to man is a relevant subject in secondary school (maybe aged 13 to 14) and that foisting these horrors on such young children is unacceptable. Am I being over-protective?

The irony is that my DD does allow her children to watch things that I do not think are suitable, but she is incensed about this - they had no opportunity to veto their child seeing this in school.

I would have been furious if it had been my child and the school would have received a visit from me.

absentgrana Sat 24-Nov-12 12:54:08

Definitely not Mishap. Maturity of mind as well as body develops at different ages in different children. At home, a mother who, of course, knows her own child well may decide that a 12A film is within his/her intellectual and emotional understanding even though the child may be younger than 12. The school is not in a position to distinguish between children in this way and it is deeply irresponsible not to follow the age guidelines for a film.

Ana Sat 24-Nov-12 12:55:10

It does seem very irresponsible of the school - film certificates are given for a reason and if they wanted (for whatever reason) to show children as young as nine a 12A the parents should have been consulted beforehand.

HildaW Sat 24-Nov-12 13:40:26

Its not a film I would have wanted to watch!
The school were most irresponsible. I hope your daughter writes a letter to both the head teacher and the governors.

annodomini Sat 24-Nov-12 14:21:28

A sensitive 9-year-old should not have had to watch this film. The book would have been well beyond him, so why show a film with graphic images of war? I haven't bothered going to see it because I liked the book and wanted to visualise it my way.

nightowl Sat 24-Nov-12 15:10:30

Is it even legal for the school to make this decision without consulting parents? It seems as though they have stepped beyond their level of authority. I would certainly be making a formal complaint.

Deedaa Sat 24-Nov-12 16:07:23

This sounds like a bad misjudgement on the part of the school. I would have thought that many nine year old's would be upset by a film like this and the trouble is that you can't "unsee" the things that have upset you. When I was at primary school (yes, cinema was invented in those days!) we were shown films like Genevieve, all safely U certificate. I think a complaint to the school would certainly be justified.

NfkDumpling Sat 24-Nov-12 16:13:54

A formal complaint is definitely called for. I believe the rating system is only a guideline, but it's there for a reason. Maybe a parent may take a mature child just under twelve to see it, knowing what that child can cope with but to show this film to a class of children three years younger than the certificate rating is irresponsible in the extreme.

FlicketyB Sat 24-Nov-12 16:18:56

DS would undoubtedly have been deeply distressed to have seen such a film at 9 and I suspect I would have been as well. DS read a Noddy book where a little monkey was punished for doing something, which he didnt know was wrong and the unjustness of that deeply upset DS at much the same age.

NfkDumpling Sat 24-Nov-12 16:28:45

I haven't been able to bring myself to read the book, see the film or see the stage show. Perhaps it's not as bad and sad as I've been led to believe. I still have a vivid imagination but it's not a patch on an average nine year old's.

Elegran Sat 24-Nov-12 16:36:51

The book was great. It was moving but the images are in your own head, and are whatever you make of them.A film is entirely different. The pictures go straight into the brain with no filtering, and for a child that is too distressing.

crimson Sat 24-Nov-12 16:55:09

The book was good, the stage show excellent but the film was a big yawn. I wouldn't inflict it on a child for that reason alone, let alone worrying about the images that could distress them.

HildaW Sat 24-Nov-12 16:57:54

Elegran, very true. With a book you can take it in at your own pace whether you are a child or an adult. Your own imagination limits certain aspects also.
I recently read 'All quiet on the Western front'. It is beautifully written and paints a picture on unimaginable horror and yet the pacifist ethos of the writer tempers one's images. Having to sit through a modern film version of it, if such a thing existed, would be beyond me. I saw a clip of the film Warhorse (the stage production is amazing and somehow far more emotive and yet less traumatising) and just knew I would not want to see yet another hollywood version of the horrors of that time. The older I get the more upsetting the idea of all those wonderful young men dieing for the sake of political ambitions makes me speachless with anger.

absentgrana Sat 24-Nov-12 17:05:34

HildaW If you have never seen the 1930 movie, do watch out for it because I think you would find it just as moving in a filmic rather than written way. I haven't seen – and don't specially want to – the 1970 something version.

gracesmum Sat 24-Nov-12 17:16:41

As a former teacher we always had to observe the age guidelines for any videos/DVDs watched e.g. on the last day of term, Anybody showing an unsuitable film was in serious trouble. We observed that, but of course the kids (teenagers) had already seen everything - "X-rated" included!

HildaW Sat 24-Nov-12 17:19:49

absentgrana, Oh yes I saw the old black and white film many many years ago, can remember the last scene with the butterfly very vividly. I was only a teenager and it moved me but did not traumatise me.

gracesmum Sat 24-Nov-12 17:20:11

Meant to say - the play is immensely moving itself, but a stage production is designed so that audiences can distance themselves. You are not swamped by over large horrific images and sounds as in the modern cinema. (Didn't stop a lot of Dads and Grandpas harrumphing, blowing noses and surreptitiously wiping away the odd tear once the lights came up!)

crimson Sat 24-Nov-12 17:41:13

As a film Private Peaceful is a much more faithfull adaptation of the book.

JessM Sat 24-Nov-12 18:33:49

A stiff letter to the Chair of Governors called for asking them if the governors have a policy on this - and suggesting maybe it should be in their "safeguarding policy", given the fact that staff do not seem to be able to make the right judgement without written guidance.
Then hopefully it will be raised at governors, they will call head to account over this and ask to be assured that it will never happen again.

jO5 Sat 24-Nov-12 18:41:26

I would say, get the book and read it to him. You can trust Michael Morpurgo. It might help him to understand things a bit more.

He will fairly soon soon be doing WW2 at school.

Mishap Sat 24-Nov-12 18:48:00

I think he understands it only too well - that is why he is so distressed. No amount of beautiful writing can sweeten the bitter pill of the cruelty of war. It has shaken his faith in human nature - too young I think.

And the principle that a film certification should be respected in schools is fundamental I think. Parents should be able to trust that the school will not breach that.

vampirequeen Sat 24-Nov-12 19:15:42

I think the school has to use some common sense. I wouldn't show this film to 9 year olds because of the content.

However, after discussion with and getting permission from the headteacher, I did use the BBC version of a Christmas Carol with my group of 7 to 11 year old strugglers a couple of years ago. I had viewed it and felt that it had been given a 12A because of the ghosts so I discussed the ghosts and special effects with the children before we watched those scenes. I really wanted to use that version because, not only was it incredibly well made but also Patrick Stewart was in it and I wanted my children to hear English spoken properly. Plus it's an exceptionally good story. The children really enjoyed it and produced some fantastic work.

NfkDumpling Sat 24-Nov-12 22:07:20

A Christmas Carol is a moral tale with a happy ending and, as you explained, the ghosts were special effects. A bit different from the suffering and anguish behind the story of Warhorse. It may be fiction but the facts it's based on are only too real.

vampirequeen Sat 24-Nov-12 22:12:21

I agree totally. I know of another school that showed The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas to a class of nine year olds. Again there were some very distressed children.

NfkDumpling Sat 24-Nov-12 22:27:16

What were they thinking of! That's for discussion groups in secondary school. Are these teachers teaching the right age group?