What do they mean?
Some parents may be confused about the difference between the 12A and 12 ratings used by the BBFC. This page explains what these categories are and what guidelines the BBFC uses when deciding whether films should be placed at 12A /12.
The 12 Categories
The 12A rating is only used for films shown in cinemas. It is given to films that are best suited to those aged 12 or older. However, people younger than 12 may see a 12A so long as they are accompanied by an adult! In such circumstances, responsibility for allowing a child under 12 to view lies with the accompanying adult.
The 12 rating is only found on videos and DVDs. No one younger than 12 may rent or buy a 12 rated video or DVD. Exactly the same rules are used to classify films at 12A as used to classify videos and DVDs at 12.
Suitable for 12 years and over. No-one younger than 12 may see a ‘12A’ film in a cinema unless accompanied by an adult. No-one younger than 12 may rent or buy a ‘12’ rated video or DVD. Responsibility for allowing under 12s to view lies with the accompanying or supervising adult.
Theme: Mature themes are acceptable, but their treament must be suitable for young teenagers.
Language: The use of strong language (eg 'f***') must be infrequent. Racist abuse is also of particular concern.
Nudity: Nudity is allowed, but in a sexual context it must be brief and discreet.
Sex: Sexual activity may be implied. Sex references may reflect what is likely to be familiar to most adolescents but should not go beyond what is suitable for them.
Violence: Violence must not dwell on detail. There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood. Sexual violence may only be implied or briefly and discreetly indicated.
Imitable techniques: Dangerous techniques (eg combat, hanging, suicide and self-harming) should not dwell on imitable detail or appear pain or harm free. Easily accessible weapons should not be glamorised.
Horror: Sustained moderate threat and menace are permitted. Occasional gory moments only.
Drugs: Any misuse of drugs must be infrequent and should not be glamorised or instructional.
Discrimination: The film or DVD as a whole must not approve of language or behavior that would offend a person’s religion, colour, gender, sexuality or disability. Aggressive use of this type of language and behavior is unacceptable unless clearly not approved of.