Children’s Participation Rights in Film Classification Systems

Tim Covell
  • The International Journal of Children s Rights, August 2017, Brill
  • DOI: 10.1163/15718182-02502005

Children's Involvement in Classifying (Rating) Films, in Several Countries

What is it about?

Many countries have film classification systems, to set age ratings for films, home videos, and so on. Most of these systems are run by government agencies, or to meet government regulations. All governments (except the USA) have signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which includes the provision that children participate in decisions that affect them. Film age rating essentially limits children's access to film, so film classification is a decision that affects them. This paper looks at the film classification systems in several countries to see if children do participate, and to what extent.

Why is it important?

Children's participation rights are an important aspect of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although film classification gets less attention than other decisions that affect children, participation in all decisions is desirable. Also, as film classification gets less attention than other issues, a country's progress in this area can serve as a marker to genuine commitment, as opposed to progress on issues that are more likely to be reported.


Tim Covell
Carleton University

I have studied film classification in Canada for many years, and I enjoyed learning how other countries manage it. It was also good to see the progress other countries have made in incorporating children's rights into this area or government. Film classification is rarely seen as a children's issue, and I hope this article help change that opinion.

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