Dear Parents & Guardians,
As partners with you in your child’s well-being, we are reaching out to inform you that Season Two of a television series called 13 Reasons Why, based on a book of the same name by Jay Asher, is due out this month on Netflix. We bring this to your attention because the show revolves around teen suicide and in Season One there were themes involving harsh bullying, substance abuse, self-harm, and sexual assault which many students found difficult to process.
Overall, teens have found the drama series highly relatable, but the series has also spurred some controversy. While some argue that the show’s story line may glamorize suicide, others feel it provides a platform for adult/child conversations about challenging topics. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has issued guidance for educators suggesting that some adolescents may be more vulnerable than others to messages such as those displayed in the television series. Monitored viewing of the show may be considered. Parents may find value in a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article, Talking to Teens About the New Season of 13 Reasons Why by Terri Erbacher, PhD, school psychologist and clinical associate professor at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. The article includes links to a discussion guide and talking points which parents may use with their children around the show and the topic of suicide. It also links to instructions on setting Netflix parental controls which allow families to exercise their own best decisions for informed viewing.
Owen J. Roberts School District remains deeply committed to the health and well-being of all our students. To that end, we wanted to be sure that parents/guardians were aware of this television series’ themes and subject. Nationwide, suicide is the second leading cause of death among school-age youth and it is reported that nearly 20% of young people actively think about suicide. We emphasize that open dialogue about suicide does not increase the risk of suicide, but in fact may reduce risk.
We believe that raising awareness and building partnerships with our families is important to the safety and health of our students. Owen J. Roberts takes a comprehensive approach to promote emotional well-being and connectedness among all students. Our staff is trained to look for students who may be at risk. The counselors in all of our schools remain available for students and families that need a safe place to talk, and they can assist in referrals to mental health resources. We encourage students who may need help processing an event, or the series 13 Reasons Why, to reach out to their school counselor. If you have an immediate safety concern, please contact your local emergency room, reach out to Valley Creek Crisis Center at 610-280-3270 (services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are free to the residents of Chester County) or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Thank you for your continued partnership.
Dr. Susan T. LloydSuperintendent