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Films that aren't deemed suitable for children even with a parent present are rated NC-17. Otherwise it's the parent's judgment whether or not to bring their kids to the movie. NC-17 is rarely used in theaters, since movies that get that rating are rarely worth bringing to theaters given that less people can see the movie.
I think they should, however they should be with a parent. They shouldn't be able to see some films like ones with nudity, however some of the more minor ones are okay. It should really be both of their choices, if the parent doesn't want them to see the R-rated movie they shouldn't see it, and if the kid doesn't want to see it they shouldn't see it. There should be an age limit, after all if they're around 5 they should definitely not see it, however older kids should be allowed.
With a parent being by their side, a child can have these mature things explained to them so they have a correct understanding instead of finding out on their own and getting the wrong idea. Sheltering your child doesn't prepare them to live on their own. This is the number one goal of a parent anyways.
Countless studies have proven beyond all doubt that watching violent movies, watching violent TV shows, and playing violent video games make kids more likely to become violent themselves.
If you ask me, no one should see an R rated movie until he or she is at least 16.
Oh yeah, and I'm sure someone is going to comment "Well, I watched R rated movies as a kid, why am I not violent?" Well, just imagine how stupid that logic would be in any other field of life. "I smoke a pack a day, how come I don't have lung cancer?" "I don't wear my seat belt when I drive, why have I still survived?" "I played with lawn darts a kid, why did I never get hurt?" Point is, that logic is stupid, no matter what the situation is.
Kids today should not see R rated films because of the fact that since the images that are in the movies we have today have Sexual content, violence, and images they cannot comprehend. The images that they would see in these films would traumatize them because they are not mature enough to see what is in these films today.