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Hawai‘i DOE Cautions Parents About ’13 Reasons Why’

May 3, 2017, 9:55 AM HST
* Updated May 3, 11:58 AM
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Hawai‘i State Department of Education Superintendent Kathryn S. Matayoshi wrote a letter to parents and guardians of Hawai‘i’s students, cautioning them about possible detrimental affects of “13 Reasons Why,” a controversial Netflix series that was released over a month ago.

The series is a fictional story about a high school student who experiences terrible events and then commits suicide. Before the girl ended her life, she made recordings for the 13 people she blames for her decision.

Critics of the series say it glamorized teenage suicide. Mental health professionals have said the series is potentially dangerous for vulnerable adolescents.

Netflix recently announced that it has strengthened its warnings to viewers and added some new ones as an extra precaution.

Unsure that parents and guardians would receive the letter sent home with students, Superintendent Matayoshi released it to Big Island Now for publication.


The letter reads as follows:


Dear Parents and Guardians,

We want to inform you of a recently released Netflix series called 13 Reasons Why, which has received high interest from teenage audiences. The plot is based on a fictional story of a high school student who experiences terrible events and dies by suicide.

We have serious concerns about the graphic elements in the series that are inconsistent with messages that protect mental and emotional well-being, as well as content that is for mature audiences.


The Hawai‘i State Department of Education wants you to be aware of this show because of its graphic nature. You may want to discuss this show with your teenager children.

The National Association of School Psychologists recently stated it does not “recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series.”

Children and youth who watch this series will need supportive adults to process it.

The series does raise issues of bullying, which the department works to reduce in our schools by emphasizing a culture of respect, responsibility and resiliency, using a framework of prevention, response and follow-up.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

The physical and emotional well-being of our students are a high priority. It takes all of us in our communities to be vigilant in ensuring students safety.

Very truly yours,
Kathryn S. Matayoshi

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