“13 Reasons Why” every parent needs to watch and learn why high school needs to change the way it is.

Source: Smosh.

High school students, especially teens are at a vulnerable age where several changes happening around them affect their overall behaviour patterns and conduct. At an age where identity formation is optimal and personal space and independence much cherished, it becomes vital for parents to supervise and support continuously. The phase of adolescent life requires wise parental intervention and walking hand-in-hand with children to monitor their interest in consuming content on television and internet.

The controversial Netflix show, “13 Reasons Why”, that debuted in March, has been facing criticism and deep concerns expressed by parents and public officials on the show’s content. The second season has been on notice since it announced in May that season two was under works. The series’ content, glamorised with glaring themes that pose possibilities of triggering teen suicides, bullying and rape has been condemned by many. The show’s urging popularity, with most young viewers has led to rising concerns among parental groups.  In order to address the issues surfacing as social menace, several schools locally and across the country have chosen to pick up a dialogue with parents. They have been insisting upon discussing such sensitive issues with children. In fact, many schools have reported rising cases of self-infliction among teenagers who closely follow the inappropriate content displayed on the show.

Teenagers engaging in risky behaviours, free sex and various forms of substance abuse are not surprising. Alarmingly, suicides have emerged as one of the leading causes of adolescent deaths. This is where parents have to pro-actively identify the signs and gauge symptoms to guide teens in leading a healthy life. Distress over issues could commonly surface among the vulnerable age group; however, appropriate handling and treatment should be adopted to minimise life-threatening risks.

So the question is whether your children are watching “13 Reasons Why”? The show based on Jay Asher’s book published in 2007 brings out incidences of cyber bullying, adolescent anxiety, depression and low esteem among teens .The much talked of show portrays its protagonist to take her life and leave 13 audiotapes that describe how peer-group and school authorities failed her and were to be held responsible for her suicide. In its first season, the show projects “Hannah’s” parents as trying to decrypt her motives, where they have little understanding of the struggles that their daughter go through. Her partying desires, lacking adult supervision lands her into a scenario where she gets raped. Parents in the show through episodes are depicted as not keen on identifying or addressing unruly behaviour streaks that affect their adolescent offspring.

One of the best ways to deal with the current situation would be to watch the show along with your high school children as it has many lessons to take away. Some understated rules that can work as a guide for parents:

  1. As the show contains mature content, its best to follow them along with your child and discuss relevant issues as they come up.
  2. The show depicts incidences of sexual assault and suicide, with use of strong language in all its episodes. As most of the themes exhibit adult matter and discussion, it’s an effective reminder for parents to understand what children, especially teens experience in schools.
  3. The show portrays suicide triggers and self-harming behaviour. The best way to deal with this would be to research on probable signs, in case you sniff that your child has suicidal tendencies. Keeping an open chain of communication with your child can be of great respite. You can go through each episode of the show with your child to check on his/her takes and exercise caution accordingly.
  4. If you feel that sexual assault projections in the show can trigger trauma with exposure to such content, best is to sit through the episodes along with your teen to understand and discuss relevance of consent.
  5. Minimising significance of bullying and gossip may not be a wise idea as children are exposed to such realities. Thus, discuss from their perspectives.
  6. It’s always better to listen to your adolescent child, than instruct. Conversations can open floodgates if any, thus bringing out your child’s mind and instincts. Listening with an open mind, without being critical and judgemental leads to better dialogues.
  7. It may not be easy for you or the child to talk openly always. Children of this age many a times avoid talking to their parents on their private experiences, due to fear and shame. Instead of trying to rule such situations, you can tell your child to talk to others about their issues. While you continue encouraging them to talk to you, suggesting resource links like suicide hotlines, information on support groups, trusted family members or school counsellors can often help affirmatively.
  8. Participate open discussions are always better ways of communicating than lecturing about topics presented in the show.
  9. On occasions children may bring up topics from episodes that you may not be familiar with; its best to spend qualitative time researching on such information than jumping to conclusions on how to deal with them.
  10. Being supportive is the key to reading your child’s mind as they will open up easily if experiencing similar situations as projected on the show related to issues of suicide, rape and discrimination.
  11. Positive modelling reinforces positive behaviour. As parents it becomes essential to set behaviours that dictate instructions.
  12. Using parental discretion to determine whether you child is matured enough to understand the material is important. It is best not to censor all content, as it will only increase curiosity; as a parent try to regulate exposure and awareness within the child’s limit of handling.
  13. The golden rule is to highlight positive behaviour and constructive attributes of children, instead of pointing out faults and failures. “13 Reasons Why” can become a powerful tool to foster positive behaviour with space for discussion and open dialogue.

Article by Rochita.

“13 Reasons Why” every parent needs to watch and learn why high school needs to change the way it is.


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