Letter Regarding Netflix Series "13 Reasons Why"

You may have heard about or watched the new Netflix series called "13 Reasons Why." Due to its popularity and the serious nature of the show's topics, the District issued the following letter and resources for families

 

May 1, 2017

Dear Families:

In recent days, the district’s administration and staff have been made aware of concerns related to a book and recently released Netflix Series entitled 13 Reasons Why.  The content of the book and the television series follows a high school student who receives 13 tapes made by a classmate before she took her own life. The tapes explain the 13 reasons why she took her own life. This letter is intended to make you aware of concerns that are emerging regarding the potential harm that may come to some children should they be exposed to the content of 13 Reasons Why without appropriate adult supervision and guidance.  Additionally, this letter is intended to raise your awareness regarding this issue and to encourage you to become informed as to whether or not your children are reading the book or watching the television series. 

According to the center for Disease Control and Prevention, teen suicide is the second leading cause of death in individuals between the ages of 10-24.  This fact indicates that teen suicide is an important topic which requires a thoughtful dialogue among children and families, educators and mental health providers.  Many professional experts, however, including the National Association of School Psychologists, do not recommend that vulnerable youth watch this series or read this book, particularly without adult guidance and supervision.

Concerns exist among mental health professionals and youth advocates that teenagers are binge watching the series or reading the book without any adult assistance.  There is a concern that children may be unable to process the issues addressed within the series or to consider the consequences of certain choices made by the characters.  The powerful storytelling both within the book and the television series may lead impressionable young people to romanticize the choices made by the characters, or to view suicide as an acceptable solution to the problems they are experiencing.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or our school counselors. This series may provide an opportunity to speak to your students about this sensitive but important issue. We are always available to help you or your child in any way we can. The health and safety of our students is always our top priority. If you feel that your child needs support at school, please reach out to us. Thank you.

 

Sincerely,

Anthony J. Taibi

Superintendent of Schools