“13 Reasons Why” prompts Jackson R-2 school district to alert parents

JACKSON, MO (KFVS) – Original Post

If you have Netflix, you may have come across the series “13 Reasons Why.”

It has a controversial theme which has prompted one Heartland school district to send a note home to parents.

The counselors at Jackson’s school district were aware of Jay Asher’s novel 13 Reasons Why, but they believe the new Netflix series includes a lot of content that may be hard for kids to digest.

“If we have students that are young that are not really able to differentiate between the T.V. drama, and real life, then it’s important that they have a conversation,” said Jackson Middle School Counselor Lauren Buchtman.

Buchtman says the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” deals with some tough topics.

It’s rated MA for mature audiences – which is one of the reasons why they sent a letter home to parents.

“We felt like it was really important to be proactive in communication, and letting our parents know that this is a thing that our students are talking about, and many of our students were watching,” Buchtman said.

The show tells the story of Hannah Baker, a teen girl who commits suicide after dealing with bullying and rape culture, and creating tapes explaining the 13 reasons why she took her own life.

“Maybe it looks pretty, it looks glamorous, it looks popular, and in reality they don’t necessarily know how to process that in their own real world,” said Jackson Middle School Principal, Janelle Pope.

Paula Politte’s twin son and daughter go to Poplar Bluff Middle School.

“I suggest for parents to watch it first, so that they know what is going on,” Politte said.

Politte watched it with her kids and she suggests other parents do the same.

“Watch it with their children in case their children have questions about any of it. That way they can give them an answer versus, them hearing something somewhere else,” Pollite said.

Butchtman agrees that’s a good strategy — if you know your child is going to watch it.

“Be able to kind of talk through it. There are opportunities to kind of talk about consequences of actions, some different things, but I think it’s important for parents to just be informed and know about it,” Buchtman said.

Here is the full letter sent to parents:

“Parents of the Jackson R-2 School District,

Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why is growing in popularity nationally and locally in the Jackson R-2 School District and is based on a teen novel of the same title.   According to the National Association of School Psychologists, “the series, which many teenagers are binge watching without adult guidance and support, is raising concerns from suicide prevention experts about the potential risks posed by the sensationalized treatment of youth suicide.” The series graphically depicts a suicide death and addresses in detail a number of difficult topics, such a bullying, sexual assault, drug/alcohol use, and other social issues.

The Jackson R-2 School District School Counselors would like to offer some tips to parents:

-Do research about the series so you are aware of the topics and content.

-If your child is watching this series, take time to have a conversation with them about it, or watch it with them.

-Be prepared that experts feel that the series glamorizes or romanticizes teen suicide in some ways.

Suicide is never a solution. It is an irreversible choice regarding a temporary problem. There is help. Prevention and support is available at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, or text “START” to 741741.

If you are concerned about your student or another child, the Jackson R-2 District School Counseling team is well equipped to handle your concerns. School counselors and other school-employed mental health professionals can assist stakeholders (e.g., school administrators, parents, and teachers) to engage in supportive conversations with students as well as provide resources and offer expertise in preventing harmful behaviors. There are also tools in place such as the Stand Up, Speak Out Anti-Bullying contact form that can be used to reach out to caring adults.


The Jackson R-2 School District Counseling Team”

Buchtman says the most important take away here is that suicide is not an option, and there are parents, and counselors there to help.

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