This new and insanely popular Netflix series about teen suicide is already impacting our youth's culture, both negatively and positively. The Yoot Staff, Pastoral Leadership, and some local counselors believe in the importance of putting a Christ centered lens to this series, and will be hosting a small group to have discussions based on the topics presented in the show. Below is a letter we sent to all Yoots parents:
Hello Parents and everyone else who loves Jesus and teenagers,
It has been less than a month since the show "13 Reasons Why" was released on Netflix. If you haven't heard of it yet, don't worry, a lot of parents haven't, but the thing is, your kids have. In less than two weeks from its release date "13RW" became the most watched series on Netflix of all time! Every youth that we have talked to about it has either watched it in its entirety or has friends that have.
Even if your kids haven't watched it, they're talking about it. The show is a 13-episode series based on the suicide of a teenage girl and the events that led up to her suicide.
The youth staff have now watched it and want to be prepared to have discussions with the youth about this show. It has the capability of influencing youth culture, positively and negatively. Our goal in Trinity Yoots is to help your teens navigate these crazy years of middle and high school as followers of Christ, including dealing with the heavy thoughts and feelings that this show is provoking.
We also believe that it is important for you to have resources to assist you in discussing these topics with your teen. We would like to have a parent informational meeting where you are able to ask questions about the show, and curriculum. Also, we would like to provide you with parent cues and talking points to begin some dialogue with your teen about these issues that will help you have a meaningful and caring discussion with your teen. If you are interested in something like this, please let us know as we are trying to gauge what to offer our parents and adults to best support you.
In light of recent events at PK Young, the school is urging parents to be present or have appropriate adult guidance for students watching this show as mentioned in an e-mail sent out recently that said,
“It has come to our attention that students have been viewing or have viewed 13 Reasons Why, a Netflix series on teenage suicide that is fairly graphic.
... we are concerned about the conversations students are having with one another in the absence of supportive adults. The National Association of School Psychologists does not recommend that vulnerable youth watch the series. Its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies. Many teenagers are binge watching without adult guidance and support.”
There is currently a curriculum being written by two veteran youth directors, one being a trained counselor that works with at-risk teens, that we are considering pulling ideas from to lead discussions with your youth about this show.
We realize the sensitivity to these issues, this show is rated mature because of the material it presents, including sex, stalking, drugs, alcohol, rape, offensive language, cutting, bullying, and of course, suicide.
On Sunday, May 7th at 4:00 pm in the youth building, we will be having a parent meeting that will include a discussion about the show, and its controversial. During the meeting, we will provide tools and resources to help you both understand where they are and tips to begin dialoguing with your teen. If you have any questions or concerns about these discussions, feel free to contact members of the youth staff at any time. Here is a waiver for parents to sign acknowledging their permission for their youth to participate in these discussions.
We will have 14 meetings based on the 13 episodes of this series, with a wrap-up session afterward. We believe that this show is already influencing the culture around our teens, and want to get a jump on these lessons as soon as possible. Our first meeting will be NEXT Wednesday night, May 3rd, in the youth building. We are asking the youth that wants to participate, alongside their parents, to watch the first episode before the first meeting.
We are encouraging parents to watch this with their teens or to watch it separately so that they know what it is that the students are having to process. For those teens that have already watched it, we will show short clips from the episodes within the lesson to refresh their memories of the talking points for that week. We will use this Christ-centered curriculum to guide our discussions. Parents, if you would like to read these lessons before watching the show, please feel free, you can find the lessons here.
Our meeting times and dates will be:
Wednesday, May 3, 7:30-9pm
Wednesday, May 10, 7:30-9pm
Wednesday, May 17, 7:30-9pm
Wednesday, May 24, 7:30-9pm
Wednesday, May 31, 7:30-9pm
Sunday, June 4, 5:30 - 7:30
Wednesday, June 7, 7-8:30pm
Wednesday, June 14, 7-8:30pm
Sunday, June 25, 5:30-7:30
Wednesday, June 28, 7-8:30pm
Sunday, July 2, 5:30-7:30
Sunday, July 9, 5:30-7:30
Wednesday, July 12, 7-8:30pm
Sunday, July 23, 5:30 - 7:30
Our hope is to provide the students with appropriate support from youth staff & counselors, while also equipping parents to dialogue and guide their teen because whether we like it or not they have watched the show, are currently watching it, or are listening to their friends talk about it. I believe it is important that we do not shy away, but that we boldly stand alongside the youth as they journey through these critical teenage years.