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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 1, 1999

                              June 1, 1999

Today the President, as part of his continuing efforts to reduce youth violence, will announce that the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice will conduct a joint study of the marketing practices of entertainment industries to determine whether these industries are marketing to children violent and other material that is rated for adults. Also today, the President, joined by the First Lady, will challenge retailers to enforce age restrictions on adult-oriented media, so that inappropriate material is kept out of the hands of children.

Helping Parents to Make the Right Choices for Their Children. Numerous studies have shown that violent programming increases children's aggression toward others and desensitizes them to violence. If, and to the extent that, the video game, movie, and recording industries market to children violent and other materials that are rated for adults, they undermine current content-based ratings systems. This would also make it harder for parents to control the movies, music and games their children see, and would increase the likelihood of children being exposed to inappropriate materials. The study will examine: whether and how the video game, motion picture, and recording industries market to children violent and other material rated for adults; whether sectors of these industries advertise violent material rated for adults in media outlets in which children comprise a substantial percentage of the audience; whether they otherwise use marketing practices designed to attract children to violent material; whether these industries have adopted procedures restricting the sale of products rated for adults to children; and the extent to which these procedures are effective in ensuring that children do not have access to adult-oriented material.

Challenging Entertainment Industry Distributors to Enforce Ratings. A key to shielding children from exposure to excessively violent media is to halt their access to these products at the point of sale. Too many children can purchase or rent violent video games and films intended for adults from retailers who do not check identifications. In fact, according to a study conducted last year, only nine percent of retail stores that rent video games refused to rent to minors games that are rated as suitable only for adults. As part of an effort to address this issue, the Washington State Retail Association and the Interactive Digital Software Association are working together to create a point-of-sale system that will notify and remind clerks to ask for identification from buyers. Today, the President will challenge the nation's retailers today to follow the lead of those in Washington State and enforce the ratings systems when they sell or rent any adult-rated material to children.

Advancing an Agenda to Address Youth Violence. The President is launching a national campaign on youth violence to comprehensively address the causes. This effort will involve community and religious leaders, the gun and entertainment industries, educators, parents, and young people. As the President announced at last month's White House Strategy Session on Children, Violence, and Responsibility, this campaign will be modeled on the highly successful Welfare to Work Partnership and the National Campaign to Reduce Teen Pregnancy. The campaign will call on all sectors of society to take responsibility for reducing youth violence and will disseminate efforts that are working throughout the nation.