In a letter released Saturday to Burlington Township families, administrators warn parents against the “glamorization” of mental health depicted in the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why.”
On Saturday, April 29, Burlington Township families with children in the school district received a newsletter titled “Raising Children During Challenging Times,” which detailed the “growing concern” regarding the Netflix mini-series “13 Reasons Why.” The letter, signed by Superintendent of Schools Mary Ann Bell and Director of Community Relations Liz Scott, said Burlington Township is one of the many schools across the nation concerned about not only the graphic nature of the show but the “inaccuracies of the material presented from a mental health perspective.”
The show addresses topics include drug and alcohol abuse, bullying, sexual abuse, rape and body shaming, and in the series, the main character uses these as her reasons to commit suicide, which is depicted in a graphic scene, the letter said.
“In a community like Burlington Township, where we have faced these challenges, the potential glamorization and misinformation surrounding these topics are especially unsettling,” the letter said.
Bell’s and Scott’s letter said these topic are on the minds of young people, and for that reason, families and schools need to find ways to have appropriate conversations about these topics that allow children the ability to properly process conversations about mental health in a safe setting.
“While the producers of the series believe this opens valuable discussion points, it is our belief that without proper adult guidance on these matters, the conversations may not be conducted in a healthy or appropriate manner,” Bell’s and Scott’s letter said.
In the letter, Bell and Scott said that it is the duty of adults to help children understand that while they may be facing issues, they have more power over the situation. The letter emphasized the district’s counselors and student assistance coordinators’ availability to students during the school day, and the district compiled a list of some local resources attached to the letter to assist parents as well.
“We encourage our parents to respond to this newest challenge to our children by arming yourselves with knowledge,” the letter said.
For more information, visit http://www.burltwpsch.org/