13 Reasons Why

By Claudia Garcia posted 05-01-2017 17:35

  
Hello Middle and High School Counselors, 

Has anyone felt the need to address this Netflix series with their school/parents/kids? If so, how did you go about addressing it? Any tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated it!
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06-02-2017 19:32

My children's school provided this to parents.

This letter is in regards to the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” which is based on the 2007 novel by Jay Asher. The show tells the story of Hannah Baker, a teen who dies by suicide and leaves behind 13 cassette tapes for people in her life whose actions or non-actions had a negative impact on her. We want to bring your attention to the negative messages imparted by the series and equip you with resources for talking with your children about the show.

As you may know, multiple topics of concern are conveyed through the show. Hannah attributes her suicide exclusively to the actions of others, and the show implies that suicide is a viable response to a problem. At no point does 13RW link the main character’s suicide to her mental illness. Beyond suicide, the show contains scenes of graphic violence and sexual assault.  Perhaps most disturbing is the inference that adults are incapable of providing youth with appropriate and sufficient support and help.

Each of these topics puts our youth at risk for misinterpretation and the triggering of past trauma. Those with current mental health concerns or instability are particularly vulnerable to the distorted messages.

Regardless of age, we encourage you to find out if your son or daughter is watching the series. Middle schoolers are encouraged to avoid the content. Should that not be possible, we recommend you to watch it with them and engage in conversations around the series. Similarly, parents of upper schoolers are encouraged to open dialogue with their children around the show.  The content of 13RW is important, complex, graphic, and potentially too much for kids of any age to process on their own.

To facilitate conversations around this topic, we have included three helpful links. The first is a statement published by the National Association of School Psychologists. It provides an overview of concerns along with valuable tips for discussion. Secondly, these discussion starters provide parents with questions designed to kick start a conversation on this series with their children. Finally, the The Jed Foundation and Suicide Awareness Voices of Education have jointly published a list of Talking Points for 13RW. This document summarizes important points that a parent may want to convey to their child.