Important Announcement for Parents
A Safety Message from Dr. Manno, April 25, 2017
ATTENTION PARENTS: Important Safety Message from Dr. Manno
Dear BCSD Families,
I am writing today to share concerns about a television series students may be watching. While many consider the video streaming service, Netflix, as "just another TV channel," it is a paid subscription service and therefore not subjected to the same FCC regulations and content rating system as broadcast TV.
Netflix recently began airing an original series entitled, 13 Reasons Why, based on the young adult book with the same title by Jay Asher. The novel was intended for young adults; however, 13 Reasons Why contains mature subject matter including graphic depictions of rape, substance abuse, cyberbullying, bullying, voyeurism, and suicide. 13 Reasons Why is about a teenager who takes her own life, but before doing so methodically records audio messages for the 13 people she feels in some way played a role in her decision to commit suicide.
This series has been available on Netflix since the end of March. Former Disney child star, Selena Gomez, is credited as a producer. With her name attached, 13 Reasons Why may reach a much younger audience than anticipated. Middle and High School students are likely aware of the series and may have even watched some, or all, of the episodes.
It is important for you to be cognizant of its availability, allure, content, and popularity. The series romanticizes suicide as a viable option, portrays school support staff as being non-responsive to students in need, and does not offer any appropriate responses or advice for students who may be in crisis.
Producers are portraying the series as an “important dialogue” about teenage abuse, bullying, and suicide. They say they hope the series can help those who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide. However, the mental health community worries that the series undermines the importance of help-seeking strategies, exposes students to multiple traumas, and romanticizes the idea of suicide. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) cautions that its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable viewers to sensationalize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies.
Caring for the well-being of young children and teens is most effective when schools and parents work together. This letter is written with the hope that with informed guidance from parents and trusted adults, students will make healthy decisions regarding their young lives. Series such as this can be thought-provoking but, they can also do harm. It is highly recommended that if your child is interested in the program, you consider watching it with them in order to give the supporting guidance that suicide is never an answer, and the blame for suicide does NOT belong to others.
If you wish to have a dialogue with your child(ren) about 13 Reasons Why, I have listed the following resources from mental health organizations to assist you in your discussion. I have also included two trailers for the show that you may find useful in becoming fully informed about this series.
- Risk Factors and Warning Signs - American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Preventing Youth Suicide Brief Facts (also available in Spanish) and Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips or Parents and Educators
13 Reason Why Trailer that provides the basic storyline for the series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDz4WbDy0CQ
13 Reasons Why Original Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JebwYGn5Z3E
As always, if you have concerns about your child or worries about the health and well-being of others, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher, guidance counselor, school psychologist, social worker, or an administrator.
Dr. Christopher M. Manno,
Superintendent of Schools
- National Association of School Psychologists, www.nasponline.org
- American Association of Suicidology, www.suicidology.org
- Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, www.save.org
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, https://afsp.org/
- Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, www.rainn.org
ANNOUNCEMENT: Critical Safety Tool - Anonymous Alerts!
It continues to be our top priority to maintain the safety and security of our students. The Bedford Central School District has launched a system for sending private, anonymous messages on urgent or sensitive matters. The system, called Anonymous Alerts, allows students, parents, and staff to confidentially report bullying, cyber-bullying, safety concerns or issues, and other sensitive topics through private messages. All messages are secure, encrypted, and remain completely anonymous. Submitters do, however, have the option to reveal their identity if they prefer to have a person-to-person discussion. Here is a link to an important letter to families regarding Anonymous Alerts.