The popular Netflix series 13 Reasons Why is about a young girl named Hannah Baker who commits suicide and leaves 13 cassette tapes addressed to people who she believed contributed to her life-ending choice.
Recently, the show has been stirring up a lot of drama in both the media and in Philadelphia schools.
A letter addressing the show’s content was sent out a few weeks ago the SLA community from co-principal Aaron Gerwer. The letter sought to make both students and parents more aware of the serious issues being addressed on the show. The letter included a list of suggestions about how to engage with the series, including thinking “ carefully about whether or not you want to watch the show ” and to “ consider watching it with others and take breaks between episodes instead of binge watching.”
So why not address the show when it first came out?
“ We heard about the show a while ago and at first we just wanted advisors to talk about it with students so they could be more aware. That’s why i didn’t send a letter out sooner because it was just supposed to be talked about. ” Mr. Gerwer explained.
“A student at Penny Parker Middle School committed suicide recently so we thought we should talk about it now. “
The letter seemed to turn a few students off and made them question the structure of the school;s support system.
“ I feel like the school tried to make it as though we aren’t mature enough to handle the content of the show,” said Junior Madison Harrison. “It just feels like they are trying to little kid us, I mean monitoring us while watching the show really.” She believes that the school shouldn’t have sent it to students at all.
Other students were upset because they feel as though the school should have addressed this issue earlier rather than waiting for an incident like the actual suicide of a student in order the send the letter out.
“ I don’t understand the delay in talking about the show,” said Junior Imani Williams. “It obviously raised a lot of awareness and made people feel a certain way so why not discuss it.”
Williams believes that the schools disorganization and delay with writing the letter drew less attention and awareness to it as a result. “ It is a serious issue and should have been addressed properly.”
The letter definitely drew controversy towards the organization of the school. But to clear things up, the letter was not initially for students.
“It was targeted more at parents so that they know what’s going on and so they can discuss and guide kids who might be feeling the way.” Mr. Gerwer explained.
Shortly after Mr. Gerwer sent the letter, the school district also sent a letter to teachers with a similar message. So however late SLA’s response might be, the district response was even slower.