The second entry of this blog is to make you aware, that Netflix has released the second season of the controversial series, 13 Reasons Why. Similar to the launch of the first season, concerns about the extreme graphical nature of the themes and issues presented in the series, such as: dating violence, suicidal thoughts, bullying, substance abuse, and more, have experienced divisive discussion in the press. Many of these issues are adult-related and severe in nature. Some argue that exposure to these narrative situations can cause a significant impact on children due to the portrayal of how mental health and mental illness are illustrated in the show.
How national organizations and parents are stepping in
Because of the continued presence of difficult themes in the show’s narrative, organizations, such as the National Association of School Psychologists (link provided below), have released “guidelines” and strong recommendations for parents and guardians in relation to the new episodes:
- The dramatic and graphic portrayal of difficult issues such as sexual harassment and suicide has the potential to put young people at risk for emotional distress or harmful behavior
- Vulnerable children and youth should not watch the series
- Those struggling with suicidal behavior and depression should not watch it alone
- Parents/guardians should watch it with their child and discuss the issues when necessary
- NASP provides a toolkit of resources for parents to utilize for these discussions
How schools can get involved
Parents/guardians are not alone in this action. There are initiatives that schools can implement that can help students who are struggling with these challenges:
- A solid and organized support system with school staff that students have easy access to
- Give students plenty of channels and opportunities to communicate their concerns
- Involve parents and the community as a resource to provide enhanced information to school officials
- Empower students to use their voice by creating a safe place where they can express themselves openly, but remain anonymous
- Students avoid fear of retribution by peers
- Allows school personnel to take immediate action on concerns they never would have known had a private communication outlet not been in place
- Readily available resources related to sensitive topics
- Conducting events and forums for the school community to discuss the show’s content
- Guest speakers give presentations about their experience
- Discuss what you think is similar to what you’ve seen or experienced in your own life and what might be amplified for dramatic emphasis.1
- Think about what might be missing that is typical in the real world, but not portrayed in the series.1
How Anonymous Alerts can help
Open discussion of these issues is a great initiative that can lead to productive communication between all members of the district community. However, there are some students who feel uncomfortable with the platform of face-to-face communication. Providing these students with an alternative tool that allows for open dialogue in a private, anonymous setting creates a sense of freedom where they can express themselves and not feel vulnerable.
With the help of the Anonymous Alerts mobile application, students are provided with a tool they can use when they feel in distress. It empowers students to speak up about sensitive issues without fear of retribution by maintaining a safe environment with 100% anonymous 2-way communications between themselves and school officials. Having a safety app like this in place will allow students to feel like they have someone to turn to at all times, especially when they find themselves or others in difficult situations.
The months ahead
As we embrace summer vacation and look forward to the upcoming school year, this series may have an impact on your student body when schools re-open. It is important to know that there are a multitude of communication tools out there for students to use their voice to report concerns such as strange behavior, bullying, or social/emotional withdrawal to school officials. The ability for students to privately express themselves, whether it’s on the Anonymous Alerts mobile app or speaking directly to school counselors and psychologists, is critical in maintaining a safe school climate.
Click here for the NASP press release for guidance regarding 13 Reasons Why, Season 2
T. Gregory Bender
Copyright © 2018 T. Gregory Bender. All rights reserved.