“13 Reasons Why” you can help prevent tragedies

Netflix has released, yet again, a smashing, binge-worthy TV show-one that you’ve likely heard about and your children likely want to watch.

But, before you hit play on “13 Reasons Why,” we want you to know what to expect, and how you can best prepare yourself to have conversations with the children and adults in your lives about the situations that are played out in this TV show. So yes-there are a few spoilers coming up, but they’re important for you to know about as a parent.

What you can expect in the show

“13 Reasons Why” portrays a girl who leaves behind a set of tapes in which she explains the thirteen reasons why she committed suicide. She asks that the individuals mentioned in the tapes listen to them completely and then pass them on to the next person.

There are very serious themes discussed in this series and many of the portrayals are extremely graphic and contain triggering imagery. Some of the themes include:

  • Suicide
  • Self-injury
  • Bullying
  • Gun violence
  • Child abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Rape

In the final episode, the main character goes to her school counselor because she wants to give life “one more chance.” She confides in him that she wants life to be over, and that she was sexually assaulted at a party.

But, her counselor never questions her intentions and instead instructs her that unless she is willing to name her perpetrator, it’s best if she just “moves on.” Distractedly, he takes a phone call as the student leaves the office; she’s praying that he will follow her, reach out to her. But he does not. She then goes home and kills herself.

Family Builders is passionate about seeing the children of Oklahoma grow in environments where their physical and emotional safety is being tended to, and we’re committed to that goal.

Because of that, we’ve compiled a list of thirteen things you can do to help prevent these tragedies. How many of these preventative measures can you take in your community?

1. Talk to your children-start early and do it frequently. You never want to be the last to know that they are struggling with something.

2. Begin educating your children at an early age that their body is their own, and that only they can determine what happens to it.

3. Implement family dinners so that your children know that there is dedicated time every night to communicate anything they may be going through.

4. Be present when interacting with children. Work on turning off phones and televisions when your children are speaking with you; this validates that what they are saying is important to you.

5. Work with your children on finding positive stress relievers such as physical activity, reading, or volunteering within their community.

6. Lead by example for your children to demonstrate the importance of “screen-free time” and interacting with those people who are physically present.

7. Talk to your children about sexual consent and the realities of “sexting.” Here are some links to help you get started:

http://www.loveisrespect.org/healthy-relationships/what-consent/
https://nobullying.com/consequences-of-sexting/

8. Educate your children about cyber bullying, and emphasize the importance of speaking up when they witness online bullying. This is a helpful resource:

https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it/

9. Be involved with your children’s schools-know their policies and advocate for specialized training for the staff to help identify and prevent harmful situations.

10. Schedule a Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse training. This is a free training from Family Builders designed to educate teachers on the signs of child abuse and how to intervene and report the abuse in a way that keeps the children safe.

11. Schedule a More than Stranger Danger training. This is a Family Builders program for parents that walks them through the process of creating safe boundaries and offers practical tips on protecting children from sexual abuse.

12. Schedule a Kids on the Block presentation. Kids on the Block is an interactive puppet program for elementary-aged children that deals with topics such as bullying and child abuse in a kid-friendly manner.

13. Educate your children about the resources that are available to them in the event that they experience emotions or situations that they cannot process on their own. These resources can start with yourself and include school counselors, mental health professionals and other trained and trusted adults.

To schedule a free training with your group contact Desiree Melkovitz at 405-232-8226 or DPowell@familybuildersok.org.

And if you ever suspect that a child you know is experiencing abuse, contact the Department of Human Services Child Abuse hotline at 1-800-522-3511.

Other useful hotlines:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.
Domestic Violence hotline: 405-917-9922
Sexual Assault hotline: 405-943-7273

Of course, if you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911!

There’s a lot you can do to protect Oklahoma children and prevent tragedies like the fictional one in “13 Reasons Why.” Let us know how we can help you do your part!

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