Recently there has been tons of talk about a new Netflix original series called 13 Reasons Why. I have to admit when I first heard about it, I was intrigued and decided to give it a watch. At the same time, my teen daughter, who is 13, asked if she could watch it too. We started the series at the same time, however, I got to about episode 9 (she was still on 5) and I asked her to stop watching until I finished the series because I felt I needed to make a decision about whether to allow her to watch the rest as it was starting to get a little graphic, even for me. I finished the series and I felt sad, angry and emotional. It was hard for me to wrap the events of this series around in my head because I knew how true to reality this series really was. Although high-school for me was not this bad, I am sure there were several kids who would think otherwise; who very well could have been Hannah and I didn’t even know it. The one thing this series did do was open up a conversation. I decided that my daughter was mature enough to watch the rest of the series but I gave her explicit instructions that at any time should she feel she needed to stop watching or if she had questions, she just had to ask and that once she was finished watching all 13 episodes, we would sit down and talk about what she had seen and how she was feeling about it all. My daughter and I thankfully have a very open relationship and she knows that she can talk to me about anything and that I will give her honest answers. We watch several shows together so having the hard talks aren’t really all that hard with her nor do I feel she would keep anything from me either.
I asked if she wanted to write something for this month’s post and these are her words:
You know, they say, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” In reality, this is so far from the truth that it’s sad. “Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will break YOU.” Those sticks and stones may put a dent in that glass, but words shatter the whole damn window. Words are knives that pierce your skin, creating long lasting scars. Words hurt more than the sticks and stones. Physical pain is nothing compared to psychological pain. Yet, people use words in this way knowing their consequences. The insult you gave to your friend last week and said it was a joke, that HURT. In the show 13 Reasons Why, which was recently released by Netflix, it portrays the story of a teenaged girl, Hannah Baker, and how the words and actions of those around her caused her to commit suicide. Hannah leaves 13 tapes, each tape about one person, singling them out on what they had done to her. Some of them may be arguably worse than others, but the point is, they all had a part in her death. Like Hannah had said during episode 13, the last episode, “Some of you cared, but none of you cared enough.” The show goes back and forth from present to the past. The present being a world without Hannah Baker, and the past a place where she is still living. In the present, the story focuses on a boy named Clay Jensen. He loved Hannah, and each episode he listens to a new tape, finding out what others, including him, did to cause Hannah’s suicide. Every person on the tapes had listened before him, they knew what each other did, as well as Clay did. Throughout the episodes, it shows Hannah trying to reach out for help, but subtly. She sent an anonymous note, she wrote a poem, and in the end talked to a person she thought she could trust, but all these attempts failed to save her. I think that as a young teen, it is very important to reach out to your parent or guardian, someone you can trust. In my experiences, if I was going through something rough, as hard as it is to talk sometimes, I would always go to my mom, knowing, in the end, I’d feel better. In the show, Hannah’s parents didn’t even see her suicide coming. They had no idea what had been going on in her life. So, all you teens out there, as much as you think telling your parents will create chaos, I assure you the relief you feel will be greater than any bad consequences that come along. I think that they were scared of their parents judging them for what they had done, or what had been done to them. I myself have an amazing relationship with my mother, I feel as though I can tell her anything. I know that she won’t be my best friend in the manner of agreeing with me about everything, but will do what’s in my best interest. Some people are saying that 13 Reasons Why glamorized suicide, and made it some kind of entertainment. Of course, television shows are meant to entertain you, but people, especially millennials, learn from social media, the internet, and the shows they watch. The creators of the show were not in any way trying to make suicide seem like a good thing. 13 Reasons Why is showing the reality of suicide and bullying. They are showing the reality of high school. They are showing the reality of life. So, next time you say something to someone, or do something to someone, think, would I want this done to me? Am I helping this person? If the answer to these questions is no, I urge you to make better choices.
What some don’t really know is a couple of years ago, my daughter was being bullied and made fun of. She was being hurt by people she thought were her friends. She has come a long way since that time, however, some of those scars have yet to heal completely. She still has self-esteem issues stemming from those she trusted as well as the cyst she had and unfortunately, try as I might, it’s been an uphill battle getting her to feel good about herself again. As her mother, watching 13 Reasons Why made me cry. It made me feel things for so many girls that this inevitably happens to. I made one promise to myself after this show, I will not allow my boys to ever think that this is okay. I will not allow them to be a Bryce, they will learn to respect women. They will know that it doesn’t matter what a girl wears or says it will never mean it’s okay for this kind of behaviour and hate. They will know and understand that when anyone says “No” it means no. I feel like changing the mentality starts with me raising my boys and my daughter. They will know that none of this is ever okay and I hope that I raise them well enough to stand up for someone if they see this kind of hate.
Have you seen 13 Reasons Why? What did you think? Will you let your teen watch?
Disclosure: I am part of the Netflix Canada StreamTeam and as such received special perks and information that I share with my readers, however, my opinion is my own