Psychiatrists say Batman movie is not for children

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The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry is weighing in on the Batman box office smash, The Dark Knight. While it's drawn rave reviews from almost every major critic across the country, psychiatrists worry about how the unexpected in the movie may affect children.

From writing, to directing, to acting, there aren't many flaws in the latest installment of Batman. But The Dark Knight, as the title implies, is a dark movie. And it sometimes catches moviegoers off guard, especially children.

Dr. Richard Martini, who heads up Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Primary Children's Medical Center, said, "I think it's too powerful for young children. How powerful it is for children that are older is something for each parent to decide."

Dr. Martini says children younger than 10, even older in some cases, should not see this movie. "Some of the things that happened were serious things, serious consequences to people, to characters, that happened in the movie that I didn't expect," he said.

He says small children often don't make distinctions between fantasy and reality. The villain is insidiously evil and scary, and the hero is not always a hero. In some scenes, he says, "Something harmful to their parents would happen in front of them, that something harmful would happen to them, and their parents would be powerless to help them or save them. I think all of those are powerful images for young children."

Theatre audiences agree. While this is powerful movie making with incredible performances, this is not your typical comic book fable for small children.

One moviegoer we spoke with said it's, "Very good, not going to let my kids watch it though."

Another said, "If they're grown up, it's a good movie."

Chad and Karen Smith saw the movie with their children. Eleven-year-old Dillon was the youngest in their group. So, did it bother him? He said, "No, I think it was really great."

For 17-year-old Kylee and 14-year-old Whitney it was "disturbing." They said, "There are things that little kids shouldn't see."

Although The Dark Knight is rated PG-13, Dr. Martini says parents may not want a child who is already predisposed to some problems to see it, even if that child is 13, 14 or 15 years of age.


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Ed Yeates


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