Superintendent Fleishman writes about social and emotional needs of students

Dear Newton Families:

Addressing the social and emotional needs of our students is an important system goal. It is essential that we work in partnership with families on important issues that impact our students. I am writing because we have become aware that many of our students are watching and discussing a new Netflix series entitled 13 Reasons Why, the content of which is challenging and difficult. 

The series is based on a young adult novel by Jay Asher originally published in 2011. The story focuses on a high school student who dies by suicide, leaving behind 13 tapes detailing why she took her own life. The Netflix series contains graphic scenes of suicide and sexual assault/rape. It also addresses issues of cyber-bullying, alcoholism, and depression. 

As a community that has felt the tragic impact of youth suicide, we are particularly concerned about the content of this series. These issues are extraordinarily challenging and may be difficult for some students to process in a healthy and appropriate way. We want to ensure that families are not only aware of the show, but are equipped with resources to help them address these issues with their children.

As a family, we encourage you to:

  • Check in with your child to find out if they have watched the show or what they might know about it. 
  • If they want to see the show, watch it with them or preview it for them. You are the best person to determine if your child is prepared to handle the content. 
  • If they have already watched it, take the opportunity to open a dialogue about the important yet difficult issues portrayed in the story.

The following resources provide important guidance on the issues addressed in the show, as well as talking points for having a meaningful conversation with your child. 

National Association of School Psychologists (Background)

https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/preventing-youth-suicide/13-reasons-why-netflix-series-considerations-for-educators

Jed Foundation (Issues raised)

https://www.jedfoundation.org/13-reasons-jed-point-view/

Jed Foundation/Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (Talking Points)

https://www.save.org/13-reasons-why/

We know these issues are challenging and I hope this information is helpful. If you have any concerns, please reach out to your child’s school counselor directly.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman

Superintendent of Schools