The shocking classroom murder in the city has turned the spotlight on the influence of movies and other forms of popular culture on schoolchildren.

Reports that the 15-year-old boy, who allegedly murdered his teacher on Thursday morning, was influenced by a film he had recently seen, reminded old timers of the grisly multiple murders committed by a youth, Jayaprakash in February 1984. The obvious similarity was that Jayaprakash too had taken in too many details of the murder depicted in the film ‘Nooravadu Naal day)'.

“Definitely films have an effect on children. Unfortunately, film critics are failing in their duty by being too soft on films that glorify rowdy behaviour,” said Gnani Sankaran, writer and social critic. “It calls for some kind of regulation. Film guidelines have to be implemented and film appreciation classes introduced at the school level so that children can look at things in the right perspective.”

The film censor board ranks films under four categories: U (Unrestricted), U/A (Under parental guidance), A (Adult) and S (Restricted). “Film distributors are responsible for explicitly stating the category under which a film falls. But this is seldom followed,” said V.Packirisamy, regional officer, Censor Board Chennai. “The onus of regulating the entry of children into theatres lies on theatre owners,” he said, adding that many a time children watch films that are meant for adults.

While social critics say that parents should enquire which category a film falls under before taking their children to watch it, many parents believe the child will not be influenced by the contents on the screen.

“Most often, children are exposed to considerable violence in the media. But there are various other factors too that influence violent behaviour, said S. Anandalakshmi from Bala Mandir Research Foundation. “Parents are advised to allow their children to watch television for not more than two hours per week.”

Counsellors say that such behaviour cannot be attributed only to external influences. “There are so many children who would have seen this film but why did this child get affected?” asked Keith Gomez, a student counsellor at Loyola College. “This could be a culmination of various factors.”

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