Twin Cities schools warn parents about popular Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why

Schools are encouraging parents to talk to their kids about Netflix's latest hit series.
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Twin Cities schools are warning parents about a popular Netflix TV show.

Netflix recently released a new series based on Jay Asher's young adult novel, 13 Reasons Why. The show has become wildly popular – drawing both fans and critics.

Among those critics is the Anoka-Hennepin School District, which sent a lengthy letter to parents Tuesday addressing its concerns.

Before we get into those, here's a little show summary: 17-year-old Hannah Baker takes her own life, leaving behind a bunch of cassette tapes and some instructions. The tapes explain the 13 reasons why she ended her life, and the instructions list all the people she wants to listen to the tapes (mostly classmates who she says had something to do with her death).

What the school says

GoMN obtained a copy of an email, which was sent to parents "in support of protecting the safety of students."

"While the show is compelling and dramatic, the concern many of us that work with children share is that it does not accurately model what we would want or hope individuals to do if they are struggling or are in crisis," the letter reads.

Specifically, the school is talking about how the show's teenage characters don't look to their parents for help. Instead, they mostly keep things to themselves. So the schools encourage parents to let their kids know it's ok to talk.

Another critique made by the schools – and many others – is that the story doesn't really address the topic of mental illness or what options people have.

The letter also cautions that the show is graphic and can be triggering – it shows things like rape and Hannah's suicide.

The Anoka-Hennepin School District isn't the only one to send home letters to parents regarding the show. Schools in Maryland and New Jersey have issued similar warnings.

What supporters say

While there are plenty of viewers and professionals who say 13 Reasons Why is potentially dangerous, there are plenty of the same who praise the story.

Supporters say it gives parents and adults an excuse to talk about a topic that's often shied away from. After all, suicide is the second leading cause of death in adolescents.

Kate Walsh, who played Hannah's mom in the show, even went as far as to say she thinks it should be mandatory in schools for that very reason.

As far as those disturbing rape and suicide scenes, show creators have said it's to let viewers know how horrible these things really are.

Resources

If you or anyone you know needs help, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or click here to chat online. To find a crisis line near you, click here.

Also, 13 Reasons Why has compiled a bunch of resources on this website.

The Jed Foundation has compiled a list of talking points that go along with the show.

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