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By Shaquenia Nelson

How do you rate?

About a year ago, I left to run some errands, and my father stayed at home with my then 8-year-old son. My dad is a movie fanatic, with very … let's say eclectic taste. In other words, he'll watch anything.

I returned home to find my son sitting on the couch enjoying The Players Club, an R-rated movie that was written by rapper and movie personality Ice Cube, and released in 1998. As this was a movie about strippers, sex and violence, I was livid and had a few words for both of them, to say the least. At this point, the movie was almost over and there was nothing I could do.

On its IMDb page, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) lists the film as rated R for strong language, sexual content and violence. I was surprised to see that there was no additional warning to include alcohol and drugs because there was plenty of that too. This was clearly a film that my son shouldn't have been allowed to see.

As a parent, I try to censor what my kids are watching, reading and listening to. I have parental controls on the televisions, game consoles, and electronic devices. I, like many other parents, I presume, realize that we live in a society where sex and drugs are glamorized in our movies, music and on television. It is very important not only that the movies are correctly rated, but that parents pay attention to these ratings.

In another example, my dad (yes, again) watched Big Daddy with my son, which has a PG-13 rating for "language and some crude humor." Initially I was okay with this choice. The next day, however, I received a call from my son's teacher informing me that he'd recreated the scene where Adam Sandler and his son relieved themselves on the door of a building (thank God he was just pretending). It wasn't until then that I paid any attention to the movie rating, and saw that at 8, my son wasn't exactly the intended audience. Hey, when you see a little boy in the preview, you automatically assume it is kid-friendly.

Now, take a movie like Home Alone which has become a classic holiday movie and is rated PG. In comparison to The Players Club, this movie has a parental advisory list that includes warnings for potential sex and nudity, violence and gore, alcohol and drugs, and profanity. If you've watched this movie as much as I have, then you know there is no comparison between the two.

There is another rating, NC-17 (No Children Under 17 admitted), which seems to have replaced the rating for some X-rated films. There are even some unrated movies that leave you up in the air as to the content.

I believe in the rating system overall, although in some instances it may be flawed. It is extremely important to monitor what our children are exposed to. The MPAA can only advise of ratings by its standards, but those may not align with yours.

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