Since being released on Netflix, 13 Reasons Why has had its share of detractors. While some critics of the controversial YA series have been very vocal about their opposition to the dark and mature themes of the show, very few could hold a candle to Principal Azza Ghali of St. Vincent Elementary School, a Catholic educational institution in Canada. Ghali has recently issued a strict rule forbidding any student in the campus from discussing the Netflix series while inside the school premises.
In a rather strongly-worded email to parents of the school, the principal stated that the discussions among students about the blockbuster Netflix series have become troubling as of late. Here is an excerpt from the principal’s letter to the parents of the school, according to a CBC News report.
“It is has come to my attention that some students are watching a Netflix series called 13 Reasons Why. The discussion that is unfolding at school is troubling. This series is rated Mature and the theme is the suicide of a high school student. This show includes graphic violence (rape) and gore, profanity, alcohol/drugs/smoking, and frightening/intense scenes.
“The purpose of this email is to provide you with this information. Please let your child know that discussion of 13 Reasons Why is not permitted at school due to the disturbing subject matter. Should you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact me. If you have questions about this show, please feel free to contact Miss Ciezki, who has watched the series.”
While the principal’s reaction to the hit Netflix series is quite severe, other schools have taken similar initiatives against 13 Reasons Why. A recent statement by the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board from Ontario, Canada, revealed that teachers have already been recommended to refrain from utilizing the controversial YA series as a teaching tool for students. The HWDSB also accused the blockbuster Netflix show for glamorizing suicide and painting a negative image of mental health professionals.
“The fictional series depicts events leading to death by suicide of a young character. It has graphic content related to suicide, glamorization of suicidal behavior and negative portrayals of helping professionals, which may prevent youth from seeking help.
“We have recommended that our teachers not use this as a teaching aid. In any class, some students could watch the series and potentially benefit. Others may have a negative reaction, whether they then blame the victim or others during the class discussions or identify with the victim and the attention their death received.
“Incidents of self-harm can increase after media portrayals of suicide. We do not want to contribute to this. We know, of course, that some students will watch this series or read the book outside of school.”
Mara Grunau, the executive director of the Center for Suicide Prevention in Calgary, Canada, disagrees with the schools’ decision, however. According to the director, suicide has so far been a tough topic to discuss among parents and children. Nevertheless, the current social media climate among youths all but proves that conversations regarding this extremely dark topic must be the norm.
“I want to encourage parents to not be afraid to have the conversation because it is much better for you to have the conversation than to learn things from the schoolyard. Social media doesn’t wait for parent consent, and social media is not bound by the same decorum and standards that mainstream media is.”
Since news of the ban broke, numerous netizens have spoken against the Canadian schools’ decision, stating that sheltering students from the dangers of suicide could harm schoolchildren in the long run. Others have stated that the YA series’ themes of bullying and depression are huge themes that each student must be aware of as well. For now, however, 13 Reasons Why remains forbidden in St. Vincent and the Hamilton-Wentworth District School.
13 Reasons Why, as well as its companion segment, Beyond the Reasons, is currently available for streaming on Netflix.
[Featured Image by Netflix]