A Media Alert for Parents
Season 2 of the controversial show, “13 Reasons Why,” was released on Friday, May 18th on Netflix. This show’s target audience is teenagers, however, Netflix has given it an “MA” (Mature Audience) rating.
For more information on the show and how to speak to your child about it, please read the below letter written by Nancy Watson LCSW, at Lake Forest Country Day School. Please also click on the additional resources provided below including how to set up parental controls on Netflix and a free downloadable resource from Focus on the Family called “Parent’s Guide to ’13 Reasons Why.'”
Dear Families,You probably are aware that Season 2 of the controversial Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why,” will begin airing on Friday, May 18. The series, which was released in March 2017, is based on the bestselling 2007 young adult mystery novel of the same name, and centers on an adolescent girl’s suicide and the cassette tapes she leaves behind detailing the reasons why she took her life. The first season raised significant concerns for parents, educators and mental health professionals due to its dramatic, often graphic portrayal of sexual assault and suicide. Netflix has not confirmed the thematic content for Season 2 other than to say that most of the Season 1 characters will return and that difficult issues will again be explored.
Given the possible storylines set up at the end of the first season – another suicide attempt, a rape trial, and a school shooting – the expectation is that Season 2 will be equally provocative. Many mental health professionals are again warning that 13 Reasons Why could pose risks for some viewers, especially for those already struggling with mental health issues. In response to the controversy, Netflix has added video warnings in front of each episode telling viewers about how to get help and pointing them to resources on the website. It also plans an after-show, “Beyond the Reasons,” with the show’s actors, experts, and educators breaking down the series. While these initiatives are a step in the right direction, as often happens in dramatic portrayals, there will likely be shortcomings in its execution and the series continues to raise real concerns for school leaders and the mental health community.
Notably, there are indications that young people are watching or re-watching the first season in order to prepare for Season 2. While many of our children are resilient and capable of differentiating between a TV drama and real life, engaging in thoughtful conversations with them about the show is vital. Doing so presents an opportunity to help them process the issues addressed, consider the consequences of certain choices, and reinforce the message that suicide is not a solution to problems and that help is available. You may want to consider whether 13 Reasons Why is appropriate for your children or an activity best engaged in as a family.
I have included a resource from Erika’s Lighthouse which reviews talking tips for parents. Tips For Talking To Your Teen About “13 Reasons Why”