School have started sending home notes urging parents to stop their kids from watching the new season of 13 Reasons Why.
This week, a major family lobby group in the United States called on lawmakers to force Netflix to remove the drama, saying its contents are a “ticking time bomb” for teenagers.
And psychologists here are worried it glamorises suicide, self-harm and violence towards others.
So should the controversial series be banned? Is there a reason for parents to be worried about their children watching it?
I don’t think it should be banned but I do think there’s cause for concern.
Season one depicted a teen character deciding to take her own life, sparking talk that the plot was too graphic and too close to the bone. Those upset the first time around aren’t going to like the second instalment to this story.
And spoiler alert if you’ve not seen it yet.
The show has sparked renewed fury in the US, as it includes a storyline about a bullied student’s plan to stage a mass shooting at a school dance. Talk about poking the hornet’s nest.
In this current era, they’re worried about copycats – not to mention vulnerable people being triggered.
But here’s the deal. Telling a young person not to do something is a surefire way of having them do it and banning or censoring popular content only makes it edgy and more appealing.
There is absolutely no doubt that 13 Reasons Why is heavy. Very heavy. Not all young people should watch it and that’s firmly a call for parents to make.
But the contents, while intense, are hardly unrealistic.
Mental illness, suicide and self-harm are prevalent among youth and being a teenager in these modern times, with social media and a whole host of very new pressures, is a bloody hard prospect.
Awareness and understanding of the risks kids face is important and this show could just be an opportunity to spark vital conversations.
While the school shooting element may thankfully not be part of Australia’s reality, but we live in an increasingly globalised community. Ignoring difficult issues helps nobody.
Whether parents let their own children watch it is nobody’s business. But if they do, it’s worth having a frank and open conversation about its content afterwards.
If you, or someone you know needs help, speak confidentially to a trained counsellor 24 hours a day:
Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636