The Media Council for Children and Young People

 

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The film classification system:
Classifications
A-Approval of the film for general admittance 
7-Approval of the film for general admittance, but not recommended for children under the age of 7
11-Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 11
15-Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 15
Parental guidance directive
Submission obligation
Criteria

The Film Act
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The film classification system:

Classifications

 

A-Approval of the film for general admittance

  • A film under this classification must not contain any frightening elements nor scenes or themes, which children do not understand and thereby might be frightened by. Frightening elements could for instance be films in foreign languages or films containing scenes where grown ups or children are speaking very loudly or fighting.
Approval of the film for general admittance

7-Approval of the film for general admittance, but not recommended for children under the age of 7

  • Children in this age group begin to be able to distance themselves from films and are therefore not as easily frightened by special effects and loud noises.

Films under this classification may as a principal rule only contain few elements, which could frighten the youngest children. Frightening elements could for instance be scenes where children or animals are molested or deserted. Children of 7 or 8 might find such elements frightening because they have difficulties watching a film as one story. Violent scenes will often be experienced as a finished sequence and if a child is already frightened he or she will not notice that the story might have a happy ending.

In spite of violent scenes a film could receive the classification of 7 depending on the context of the violence used. For instance violence used in humorous unrealistic contexts may cushion the frightening and harmful effects as it creates a distance to reality.

Approval of the film for general admittance, but not recommended for children under the age of 7

11-Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 11

  • Films containing frightening scenes or a touch of horror but without real violent scenes or films, which do not describe violence in detail, will often be placed in this category.

Children of 11 to 14 are in general good at distinguishing between fiction and reality and are thus able to distinguish between films with imitated, exaggerated or unrealistic scenes of violence and their own reality and life. Furthermore, they are able to deal with sustained suspense. 

Films such as science fiction, action comedy and catastrophe often receive this classification. 

 

Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 11

15-Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 15

  • Young people and adults aged over 15 are expected to possess an understanding of genre and to be able to deal with frightening films.

Films containing a lot of violence or violence described in detail or violence, which is glorified or legitimated are placed in this category along with other strong films such as pornography.

Whether a film is placed in the category of 15 or 11 depends on how realistically the violent scenes are described. If the violent scenes are taking place in a make-believe world the film might be placed in the category of 11 years instead of 15

Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 15

Parental guidance directive

Children who have turned 7 are allowed admission to all films if accompanied by a grown-up (a person turned 18). Consequently it is the parents responsibility to ensure that their children do not watch violent and hard-core pornographic films.

The full extent of the parental responsibility must be seen in the light of the liberal attitude towards the principle of freedom of expression in Denmark, which means no censorship for adults - the film industry is allowed to show all films.

The level of confidentiality with the film media varies from child to child. It is the objective of the Media Council for Children and Young People to get parents and adults to participate in deciding what their children should and should not watch rather than to adhere to the age limits.

There is a big difference between watching a video film in familiar surroundings, and watching a film in the cinema. In general children are able to cope with more when watching a film on a TV-screen where the sound level can be adjusted, than in the darkness of the cinema where children under the age of 4 may easily be overwhelmed by the light and sound effects.

The Media Council for Children and Young People recommends that children are not taken to see a film at the cinema until the age of 4.

 

Submission obligation

Films accessible to the public do not have to be classified by the Media Council but consequently must be labelled as 15 -Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 15 – no matter the harmlessness of the film.

 

Criteria

According to the Danish Film Act the Media Council for Children and Young People must base its decisions on whether or not a film may have a harmful effect on children. Harmful films mean films with a fearing, frightening and/or brutalising content. The impact of a harmful effect changes from child to child and depends on the individual child's social and psychological situation. The Media Council has to analyse risks of harmful effects in relation to the development of a normal child, and the parents are requested to evaluate what their own children capacity for dealing with these kinds of impressions.

The Media Council always evaluates films and the risks of harmful effect from a general perspective including among other things the interaction between the actual story and the special effects. Consequently paying attention to the various components of a film, the angle of the filming, the cutting, and how for instance the rhythm and sound may affect children’s imagination and film experience.

Violence for the sake of violence - sex just to show sex - abuse of all kinds will always have an influence on the decisions of the Media Council.

The decisions are based on a professional pedagogical and psychological view, and meant as a guideline to parents.

The Media Council also has to take into consideration the fact that the norms of society and moral development change. Films which were considered harmful to children thirty years ago, will properly not be viewed in the same way today which can be seen as a result of children being more accustomed to and familiar with the media today. Which is why the Media Council also has a big task in following the development of the digital age and the development of children’s abilities in relation to this.

 

The Film Act

More information about the Danish film legislation on The Danish Ministry of Culture's homepage.