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Navigating “13 Reasons Why” with your Child

Posted on Communication, General April 30, 2017 by Mary George

 

If you are the parent of a child ages 11-18, I am sure that you have become aware of the controversial Netflix series, “Thirteen Reasons Why,” based on Jay Asher’s 2007 young-adult bestseller. It is about a high school student, Hannah Baker, who kills herself and leaves behind 13 audiotapes detailing the events that led to her death, including sexual assault, substance abuse and bullying. These 13 tapes are sent to 13 people who she says contributed to her decision to commit suicide.

The controversy lies in what many feel is the irresponsible messaging to teens (it is rated TV-MA meaning the content may not be suitable for audiences under 17). Mental health professionals believe that it glorifies suicide possibly making teens who are contemplating suicide to imagine what life is like for those they leave behind as well as potentially leading to copycat behaviors. One very important point that the show never articulates is that most children who die by suicide have mental health illness, such as depression, that is treatable. Also the lack of responsible adults in the show is unnerving and unrealistic. It does not show teens that there are trusted adults, whether parents, other family members, teachers, and/or school counselors that can help. It has been hinted that the possible second season will bring in the adults’ point of view since it is so gravely lacking in the first 13 episodes.

What can we do to help our children who are watching this series? Once again, communication is key. If your child is watching “13 Reasons Why,” watch it with them and discuss it. Ask them specific questions about how certain scenes made them feel. Discuss with them the power of words and how cyberbullying and bullying feels to them and to others. Help them to understand that the show does not depict responsible adults and that there are people that can help. Also, how you understand their feelings and are willing to listen and help find a solution. If you are comfortable with your child watching the show be ready to talk to them about sexual assault. This is not a small, insignificant conversation to have. It must be well thought out and discussed. If you are struggling to know how to begin any of these conversations with your child, Common Sense Media outlines the following conversation starters after watching “13 Reasons Why” which can be very helpful:

 

  • *Ask: Have you witnessed or experienced cyberbullyingor more traditional bullying? What different forms can bullying take? What can you do to fight it? 
  • *Do you think 13 Reasons Why romanticizes suicide, or does it provide an important outlet and opportunities for discussion? Or both?

    *Families can talk about the way suicide is addressed on this series. When is it important to talk about mental health, especially if you’re worried about a friend or family member? What resources are available to help both kids and adults?

  • *What do you think about Hannah’s choices? Was it right for her to blame others for her suicide? What are some healthy ways to cope when relationships, family, and school get overwhelming?
     
  • *Sexual assault, specifically the rape of a main character, plays a large role in this series. Families can talk about resources available to teens; the Crisis Text Line is an excellent way for phone-shy teens to reach out in times of need. 

I feel that it is important to note that the National Association of School Psychologists “has advised teenagers who have had suicidal thoughts to avoid the series entirely. They recommend that any teenager should watch with a parent who can make it clear that suicide is not a solution to problems.”

Our children’s lives are incredibly complicated and they do not have the benefit of personal experience or the ability to process the issues that they are confronted with everyday. We have to be present and thoughtful in our conversations with them so they can gain an understanding of how to deal with these situations now as well as continue to ask questions and grow with a sense of trusted connection to others, strength and empathy.

Further Resources:

JED Foundation – Protecting Emotional Health and Preventing Suicide

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

Rape Crisis Center and Hotline

 

—Mary & Claire

 

 

**My Remarkable Self is available to give workshops, school/camp assemblies and classes for parents, students, educators and businesses. Please contact us at info@myremarkableself.com for further information.**

© Kids Empowered LLC and My Remarkable Self® 2017

Celebrating Women

Posted on General March 30, 2017 by Mary George

As we come to the end of Women’s History Month, let’s take a look at some of the amazing women we have highlighted on our Instagram page who have helped lay the foundation for us to build upon and those who are helping to empower Women throughout the world.

Ilhan Omar the nations first Somali American female legislator.

 

Millie Dresselhaus a physics pioneer who was one of the first women in STEM education.

 

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed to her seat in 1993 as only the second female justice. She has been a fierce champion for the rights of women on the bench. She has been a true pioneer, co-founding the Women’s Rights Law Reporter in 1970 as the first law journal to focus exclusively on women’s rights. She was the first female professor to receive tenure at Columbia and co-authored the first law school casebook on sex discrimination. In 1972, she co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.

 

In honor of International Women’s Day the Swedish National Women’s soccer team took their names off their jerseys and wrote empowering slogans. Making History!

 

Two girls learned the game of tennis on the cracked courts of Compton, Calif. Serena and Venus Williams have grown into women who have not only reached the summit of their sport but who have also inspired multiple generations of children and others to follow their dreams through strength and perseverance.

 

Hats off to Amy Poehler – actress, comedian, director, producer, writer and co-founder Smart Girls. Smart Girls is an organization emphasizing intelligence and imagination over “fitting in.” Amy helps young women make history every day by helping them find their voice!

 

We celebrate Misty Copeland the first African American dancer to become principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre. Misty was considered a child prodigy as she didn’t start dancing until age 13 and despite being told she couldn’t and wasn’t the “right fit” she never gave up and fought harder. She has become a voice and role model for millions!

 

Today for Women’s History Month we celebrate Gloria Steinem – feminist, journalist, social and political activist. Gloria co-founded the Women’s Media Center, an organization that works to make women visible & powerful in the media. Voices like Gloria’s are truly powerful!!

 

We want to acknowledge Lady Gaga – Stefani Germanotta. Lady Gaga is a singer, songwriter and actress and is one of the best selling musicians of all time. Most importantly she is also known for her social activism and philanthropic work specifically with her Born This Way Foundation which focuses on promoting youth empowerment and combating bullying.

 

We celebrate the amazing, determined American track and field sprinter #allysonfelix -Olympic champion, 3-time world champion and is tied as the most decorated female Olympian in track and field history. She’s an ambassador for @righttoplayusa, a global organization that uses play to engage kids in their education. ❤ this #RemarkableWoman who believes that being a role model is a privilege.

 

A huge congratulations to US Women’s Hockey team who won their historic fight this week to earn an increase in compensation & the same level of insurance and travel accommodations as male players. This 4 year contract is an unprecedented victory for women athletes and these strong women received broad support for their fight for fair pay and treatment from female athletes across sports, the public and male sports leagues such as NHL, NBA, NFL & MLB.

This month we have celebrated women who have #shatteredglassceilings as athletes, activists, veterans, entrepreneurs, politicians, artists, educators & visionaries. They used their voices , talents & visions to make history how will you make change?

 

—Mary & Claire
 

**My Remarkable Self is available to give workshops, school/camp assemblies and classes for parents, students, educators and businesses. Please contact us at info@myremarkableself.com for further information.**

© Kids Empowered LLC and My Remarkable Self® 2017