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PG-13 Movies Showcase More Gun Violence Than R-Rated Films, Study Says

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Flying fists and bullets are what apparently is bringing kids to the movies these days.

As CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported, researchers from the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania looked up top-grossing movies from 1985 to 2015, and found that PG-13 rated films were increasingly showcasing more gun violence scenes than R-rated films.

Read The Full Study

David Edelstein, film critic for "CBS Sunday Morning" and New York Magazine, said movies get R ratings only if the gun battles show realistic and bloody consequences.

"A thousand people could die in a movie. They could just get mowed down," Edelstein said, "and if they drop without a sound -- without a drop of blood or spatter -- it will get a PG-13 Rating, because that's what's considered fun violence."

The 2012 movie "Safe House" had 10 scenes where a character shoots and hits another character. It got an R rating.

"Terminator Salvation" had more, with 12 such gun scenes. But it was rated PG-13

So why has there been a spike in gun violence in PG-13 rated movies? Critics said it is a means for the movie industry to compete with what kids can already at see at home on their TV or computer.

"The violence is so ramped up -- even in network shows," said child psychologist Dr. Marcie Biegel.

Biegel said the casual tone of violence in family movies could have long-term effects.

"It allows children to idealize violence, so they see someone hurt a whole bunch of bad guys and then have a parade for them," she said. "That teaches kids that violence leads to celebration, which is not the link we want them to make."

Parents were not pleased by the revelations about family movies and violence.

"Kids are supposed to stay kids," said parent Orlando Edwards. "They shouldn't be learning about guns or anything like that."

"I wish the movie industry wouldn't rely so much on violence to attract audiences," said parent Patricia Dinely. "I wish that we would push for a different standard."

Parents who spoke to CBS2 said they will look at more than a movie's rating before they bring their kids to the theater.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

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