Kids Have Easy Access to Explicit CDs

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Despite all the concern over graphic video games and inappropriate movies, the biggest risk to kids may actually come from explicit music.

More than 60% of underage shoppers were able to buy CDs that had parental advisory labels in 2010 without actually being accompanied by a parent, according to a new government survey. That’s less than the 72% who were able to do so in 2009, but it still means that adult music is the most easily accessible form of age-inappropriate entertainment for minors.

The Federal Trade Commission recruited an unreported number of 13- to 16-year-olds between November 2010 and January 2011 and asked them to try to buy R-rated movie tickets and DVDs, as well as video games rated mature and CDs carrying the advisory label at major chains around the country without a parent.

Of all the options investigated, retailers were the best at regulating the sale of video games to minors, as just 13% of teens successfully purchased a game rated M, down significantly from 20% who were able to do so the year before. Meanwhile, about a third of the teen shoppers were able to purchase R-rated DVDs and movie tickets, the latter of which was actually an increase of five percentage points from the previous year.

Generally speaking though, the statistics point to a general improvement in store enforcement.

“Our undercover shopper survey demonstrates some progress,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.  “But more needs to be done.”

But while access to explicit CDs has fallen slightly in recent years, the data show that policing of CD sales was less common than the regulating of any of the other entertainment categories and has improved at a slower pace than most of them as well.

Target proved to be the worst at enforcing the age-restriction policy of all the major retailers surveyed for CD shopping in the study, with minors able to purchase explicit music at Target 77% of the time. Indeed, of all the companies surveyed in the report, Target arguably comes out the worst, as it also proved to be the worst at enforcing restrictions on R-rated movies and the second worst with policing the sale of unrated DVDs that had been rated R when first released in theaters.

Wal-Mart, another big-box retailer, also comes away from the study with poor marks for being the worst at enforcing video game sales. One fifth of minors who shopped for mature games at Wal-Mart as part of the operation were able to purchase them without a parent.

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