Parents: what your teen doesn’t want you to know…

Hello MS and HS parents. Hopefully the school your student(s) attend have sent out a similar email…

It is VERY important that you read this entire email as I want to talk about a new Netflix series that you may or may not have heard about. I guarantee almost every one of your students has. It is called “13 Reasons Why.”

There is a new popular trend that glorifies self-harm, suicide and suicidal ideation and this new series is leading the way. The show is all in one season and it is about a young lady, “Hannah” who through a series of audio tapes she has recorded, talks in detail about why she committed suicide. in and of itself, that doesn’t sound bad, but it has a rating of MA for a reason. It’s content includes graphic rape scenes, adult language, extremely graphic suicide scenes along with issues around sexual identity, drinking and driving, drug use, bullying, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.

Because so many social and news media outlets are discussing this show it has become somewhat of a trend. That is why I am sending this email out to you all. Knowing how many students have watched this or are curious about it, this is what I suggest for this weekend and my reasons why:

Sit down with your MS/US students and ask them what they know about the series “13 Reasons Why”.

Make sure they know that they are not in trouble in any way. This is an excellent teaching moment and a time to talk about important issues.

As parents, if you feel you need to watch it,  I honestly would NOT recommend watching it with your children.

IF you feel you must watch each episode with them, discuss it before, during and after. Explain their options if they feel they are facing any of the situations depicted.

If you sense they are feeling anxious or upset during an episode STOP immediately.

Some young people are more vulnerable and are more at risk of relating in an unhealthy manner to this series and more impressionable kids may not truly understand the fictional element of this show.

If your kids have already watched it–you may have some damage control to do–make sure to talk with them about it and listen to what they have to say.

Things to know:

It is extremely graphic and the last episode is basically a “how to” guide on taking your own life.

The rape scenes are extremely graphic.

While they do well at illustrating many real elements of our current teen culture, it is not how it is everywhere–it is certainly not what we promote, nor tolerate, at our school.

They leave out the “goodness” of life, the “God”, the positive, and the good people–and the responsible people, friends, parents and resources to help Hannah cope! I would certainly hope for better at a school as a mental health professional.

The show is all but void of any kind of Godly character, morals or value system.

They glamorize Hannah, the main character, and portray life as only having meaning after you die–a very backwards message that will be difficult for more sensitive or at risk kids to wrap their minds around.

That is it in a nutshell. I hope this information helps you as parents. While I do think we need to be open about real topics such as depression, anxiety, even suicidal ideation when appropriate and in the right setting, along with topics such as bullying, sex, drugs, alcohol etc.. this is not the series I would choose to help guide me when discussing these issues with my children.

In conclusion, please DO discuss the show, ask them what they know, if they have seen any episodes and be open to talking to them about some of the topics. The best way to get to know about the current culture is to always ASK. They know their stuff! 😊

Last, but never least:

Pray with and for your teens and tweens.

Sit down and have dinner with them at least twice a week and ask them questions about their culture and what they are dealing with, how they are feeling and how they cope.

Set appropriate expectations and with them list consequences and remember to reward good behavior.

Affirm them.

Be positive.

TRUST. But verify.

Remember this is a very difficult culture they live in and they need YOU and they need you to notice THEM…

Keep fighting the good fight! God Bless you all.

Dr. B

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