What you must know about “13 Reasons Why”

We have suggestions on how to help your child navigate the serious issues this hit teen show raises.

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If you’re a parent, you may have received a note from your teen’s school to warn you about the Netflix teen drama series, 13 Reasons Why, which has just been renewed. The Ministry of Education has even sent out an advisory cautioning parents about the perils of your tween’s unsupervised viewing of the show.

Notes Chong Ee Jay, Touch Community Services (TCS) manager, “I have received quite a number of text messages, e-mails and phone calls from concerned parents and educators about the show.” Touch conducts cyberwellness talks in schools and offers counselling services. Parents who have seen the show are shocked and worried about the show’s content, as well as its influence and impact on children and teenagers, Chong adds.

So, just what is it about the show that has everyone in a tizzy?

What is 13 Reasons Why about?
The drama shows the aftermath of the suicide of high school student, Hannah Baker. Before her death, Baker recorded a collection of 13 tapes. Each tape details how a particular individual in school —a classmate, acquaintance or school counsellor — had contributed to her decision to kill herself.

A TCS poll shows that at least 82.4 per cent of Primary school students and 99.6 percent of Secondary school students have witnessed cyberbullying behaviour online.

Needless to say, the serial covers a number of heavy subjects, some of which you may not be comfortable discussing with junior. If your child is watching the show, Chong advises that you watch it yourself, watch clips of it or do some research. When you get a better understanding of what the show, you’re in a better position to help your child process the themes by having a frank discussion of the show’s content and themes. Here’s what you need to know about the show…

1. It is rated M18 on Netflix
WHAT While the rating does little in preventing your child from accessing the show, you can use Netflix’s parental filters to ensure that junior cannot watch the programme.
STEPS TO TAKE You can set a pin code to restrict Netflix access ― go to your account settings and select the Parental Controls options. After keying in your password, you will be prompted to set your four-digit pin code.

2. Bullying is a real problem in the show
WHAT Being bullied is one of the main reasons why Baker decides to take her own life. Chong says that children and teenagers in our schools are dealing with the troubling issue of bullying and cyberbullying. A TCS poll shows that at least 82.4 per cent of Primary school students and 99.6 percent of Secondary school students have witnessed cyberbullying behaviour online.
STEPS TO TAKE Educate your child as to what bullying is. Talk to your kiddo about what it looks like and why it happens. You can also detail steps your child can take to avoid being an easy target, such as using assertive behaviour like smart comebacks to shut the bully up. Also, teach them how to get away from the bully to seek an adult’s help. Tell junior it is important to speak up and report such incidences to you or the school’s principal or discipline master.

Find out how to discuss the tough issues highlighted in the series with junior…next!