NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A letter sent home with students in a Westchester County school district about the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” is raising some concerns.
The letter starts off “dear families,” but is the content family friendly?
“I don’t think it’s appropriate,” mother, Rebecca Katz, said.
The city school district of New Rochelle sent the letter home in children’s backpacks about the recently released Netflix series.
“13 Reasons Why” portrays a high school girl’s journey that ends with suicide.
In the letter, the school district states the series “does not demonstrate students seeking and receiving help,” and it wishes to “alert families to the need for guidance.” But as CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock reported, the letter also lists other mature subject matter depicted in the series, including “bullying, rape and alcoholism.”
“Rape, alcoholism – he doesn’t know what that is. I don’t think I want him to know at this point,” Katz said.
Katz has an 11-year-old son in the New Rochelle school district. She says she doesn’t want him to read the letter.
But for some families, that’s exactly what did happen. Students, just in second grade, read the words before their parents even knew the letter existed.
“I’d rather not address those kind of topics, but it’s all over the place. So if I have to, then I’ll have to address it and explain it to him,” another woman said.
“To hear that a letter like that was sent home in a backpack, potentially if that is true, that’s astonishing to me,” said Dr. Jill Emanuele, Senior Director of the Mood Disorder Center at Child Mind Institute.
Emanuele said children should not be reading the material. A secure method of delivery should have been used, like snail mail or email.
“I don’t even know how I would go about addressing this with a kid. Why would I have to address anything with a kid that age?” father Joe Nardoze asked
“I might say something like, ‘I know you’re concerned about this. This is a grown up word. It’s not something you need to be concerned about,’” Emanuele said.
It’s a conversation many parents prefer to make within their own home in their own time.
The New Rochelle School District would not provide a comment on camera, but did say it felt “it was important to alert parents and provide resources on suicide prevention.”
As for the chosen delivery method, the district would not comment.