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Concerns raised about '13 Reasons Why'

24/04/2017

Heard of the TV show on Netflix:
13 Reasons Why?

Just because it is on Netflix and is available any time, does not make it ‘G’ Rated. This one is R18+. Believe me! I watched it.
 
It looks like a show for teens.
Sounds like a show for teens.
But it is no show for teens.
 

What we see on TV can be damaging!

’13 Reasons Why’ is a dramatic portrayal of the complex issue of teen isolation, bullying and suicide. It is very confronting and dangerous. It is set in the future of 2017. I watched the whole series and I was very upset by the story in many ways:
·         It shows young people as isolated from the world of caring adults including their parents. There is always someone to talk to;
·         The actions taken by the main character in recording her thoughts seem to make suicide a form of revenge. It is not;
·         It appears to glamourise self-harm;
·         It is easy to find the material distressing;
·         It brings back memories of when people you knew passed away tragically;
·         Sexual assault is very confrontingly portrayed;
·         Domestic violence is seen to be a hopeless situation which cannot be addressed; and
·         The use of violence is presented as the way to resolve issues between males.
 
The show simplistically portrays how damaging gossip, rumour and sharing images or posting comments online can be. We did not need a TV show to tell us that. We knew that this is a serious issue already. The show does nothing to show what can be done to effectively address it, how to build resilience and how talking about it with professionals or people you trust helps.
 
I am not the only one worried about this show - so are many experts in the field of adolescent psychology:
“Headspace’s national school support service development manager Kristen Douglas said she’d had calls from primary and high school teachers requesting urgent help.
“There are concerns about the graphic depiction of suicide and sexual assault, but also the message the storyline promotes in terms of suggesting suicide can be a common sense solution,” Ms Douglas said.
“Suicide is something that is very complex that can’t be simplified, and there’s never a linear lists of reasons why ... having her look back on her last moments gives young people the unrealistic idea she’s getting her revenge or having the last laugh.”
 
This is no TV show for teenagers. It’s an adult program and should belong in the category or psychological horror – definitely 18+.
 
Ms Garrone our 10-12 Guidance Officer adds:
With regards to 13 Reasons Why, I would like to add that from a school guidance officer’s point of view, Mr Porter, the show’s school counsellor, is an embarrassment to our profession. He is not only incompetent but fails to show any empathy especially after being informed by a girl that she has been raped. I would hope that students in our school would be granted greater respect and level of care.
 
Additionally, this show perpetuates the notion that ‘soft boys are supposed to look after damaged girls’. A child should never be responsible for saving another child’s life. Hannah did not need a boyfriend to stop her from suicide; she needed the people around her to stop being misogynists, her friends to stop being bullies and her parents, teachers and counsellor to stop ignoring her pain. Unfortunately, this last point is really lost in the show as it is overshadowed by the romantic notion of suicide.
 
I agree Ms Garrone.
 
The following web links may be helpful to parents/students and could be included in the newsletter:
 
Grief: How young people may respond to suicide
Supporting your young person over the holidays –
How to talk to young people about suicide