America's Most Wanted

Common Sense Media says

Offers a valuable service, but it's awfully scary.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Offers a valuable service -- to date nearly 1000 criminals have been caught due to viewer tips.

Violence

Graphic crimes (including rape, murder, and more) are described, with some crime scenes shown. The re-enactments can be bloody and graphic.

Sex

Sex is sometimes referenced in cases involving rape or child pornography.

Language

Minor profanities ("hell," "damn,"); stronger language is bleeped.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Crimes often involve drugs and alcohol.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that while this crime-fighting show offers a valuable service, it's also scary and violent. With the creepy close-ups of criminal photos and graphic descriptions and re-enactments of horrible crimes, the show can be unsettling for adults as well as kids. It's intense -- watching victims' families deal with the aftermath is heart-wrenching, and knowing these dangerous criminals could be lurking nearby is terrifying. The crimes that are described and re-enacted (including murder, child pornography, and kidnappings) are violent and often bloody. Sometimes the program shows actual crime-scene photos.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

AMERICA'S MOST WANTED offers viewers the opportunity to catch criminals, locate missing children, and help federal and state police solve and prevent crimes. It's been on the air since 1988 and continues to enjoy great popularity. Created by host John Walsh, whose young son was kidnapped and murdered in 1981, the program seeks to empower everyday people who want to stop crime.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

While the show offers a valuable service (to date nearly 1000 criminals have been caught due to viewer tips), it's too frightening for kids (and some adults). The descriptions, re-enactments, and crime-scene photos are graphic, and the close-up photographs of the criminals are potentially nightmare-inducing. The show instills a fear that the criminal in question could be lurking right outside your door.

Need an example? One episode profiled a man who brutally murdered his wife then went on a crime spree in which he sexually molested several young girls. The whole sordid tale was re-enacted to drive home the horror of these crimes. Bottom line: Kids shouldn't be watching this show. Even adults who tune in may be left feeling unsettled -- and checking to make sure the door is locked.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether the value of catching criminals outweighs the fear the show inherently creates. How does the program use the anxiety it evokes to its advantage? Would people be as likely to call in tips if the show's tone wasn't so alarmist? Are the re-creations of the crimes necessary, or do they serve merely to titillate the audience?

TV details

Cast:Don LaFontaine, John Walsh, Wes Johnson
Networks:Fox, Lifetime Television
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-PG

This review of America's Most Wanted was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written bygrizmaster1981 January 27, 2012
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Violent but we need to get these creeps off the streets

We must remember this service has also brought grieving families justice. Sometimes it involves the retelling of violent sexually explicit crime scenes. Sometimes we must rehash this stuff to make it clear that certain mollesters, murderers and other criminals are out there and are a considerable threat.

What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 10 years old Written bybrandonneo6425 February 7, 2009
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

good purpose but sad

I saw a recent episode where criminals killed a baby and his dad who were visiting a friends' house.The friend survived and brought the wounded baby to a bus driver brining the bus to the garage.the baby died in the e.r:(

Adult Written bySome Kid Who De... April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Don't Let Your Child Watch This!

I knew this kid named Billy. Billy was 16. Billy watched America's Most Wanted, not realizing that it was only for viewers above the age of 17. Now Billy cries himself to sleep every night.

True story.

Don't be like Billy.

Avert your eyes, children.

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