Buckle up! Kid films getting better at safety

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CHICAGO (AP) — A government study has found that characters in children’s movies are increasingly using seat belts, bike helmets and crosswalks, but unsafe behavior persists.

For example, the study looked at the 2003 Christmas movie “Elf.” In it, actor Will Ferrell is knocked down by a taxi while crossing the street. He bounces back up without a scratch — but at least he was walking in a crosswalk.

The study’s lead author, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher Jon Eric Tongren, says the scene minimizes the accident’s dangers.

Tongren says the CDC has urged film and TV producers to convey accurate and safe health messages because mass media has such a powerful influence on behavior, particulary children’s.