Tauranga principals are concerned about the latest instalment of a controversial Netflix series which features graphic sexual violence scenes, bullying, drugs and suicide.
Season 2 of the RP18-rated Netflix series 13 Reasons Why aired on May 18 and contains stronger references to rape and suicide themes than the first season.
Each episode of season 1 featured a different "reason" why 17-year-old Hannah Baker took her life. Season 2 follows a court case between Baker's parents and the school to explore who or what was at fault for her suicide.
Papamoa College principal Steve Lindsey sent an email to parents before the first season aired in March last year and had now alerted parents about season 2.
"We didn't want to alarm people," Lindsey said. "We just wanted to alert them that it was coming out and what we can do to support."
Lindsey said the email was to let parents know that the school's guidance team was prepared to support students affected by watching the "graphic and confronting" series.
"If young people are watching it by themselves and coming out with the message of no hope ... that conveys a sense of hopelessness.
"We want them to know there is hope," Lindsey said. "We can't leave it to chance."
Otumoetai College principal Russell Gordon said the danger of the 13 Reasons Why series was that teenagers were likely to binge-watch the series and become immersed in hours of confronting television.
"There are kids who are impacted by what it is they see," he said. "Sometimes kids can struggle to differentiate between the glamour and the reality."
Gordon said it was good to explore confronting issues, but the director should have been more mindful about identifying support for teenagers who may be experiencing similar issues.
He said the school sent a weekly email to its parents to alert parents about "things they need to know" which included contact numbers of support organisations.
"Schools by default have to fill the gap," he said.
Tauranga Boys' College principal Robert Mangan said the school's latest newsletter included information for parents and drew their attention to the nature of the content.
"It is important for families to engage with their children and have open discussions," he said.
Joanne Bruce, of Family Matters, in Tauranga said the RP18 classification raised alarms, and teenagers should be watching with their parents.
"It is quite good to open up discussions about it but they should be with their parents when they are," Bruce said.
"It is more difficult for young people who have experienced some of these terrible life experiences. It is going to be very triggering and it would be traumatic to watch it without any support."
However, Bruce said the series was a good way to start conversations.
"It is very distressing, raw content ... but these are real issues," she said.
"I think parents just need to be hyper-alert about what their kids are watching. I think they need to be curious and ask open questions."
Bruce said parents should lay down some good guidelines for their teens and regulate the time they were spending watching Netflix.
The Tauranga child psychologist said she had seen a lot of teens who were not necessarily affected by the programme but were willing to talk about it.
"These issues resonate with them," she said. "It is in-your-face stuff that they are dealing with, have heard of or know about."
In a media statement, the Mental Health Foundation said portrayals of suicide on-screen presented a known risk to some viewers and it was working to ensure their interests were served and support was available to them.
The foundation had included a link on its website with advice and resources for viewers of 13 Reasons Why and anyone concerned about someone watching the show.
• For more information, visit www.mentalhealth.org.nz/13ReasonsWhy.
13 reasons teens need support while watching '13 Reasons Why':
• The show is RP18
• Distressing, confronting and raw content
• It can be hard to differentiate between glamour and reality
• It features graphic sexual violence scenes, bullying, drugs and suicide
• It can convey a sense of hopelessness
• It can be triggering and traumatic to watch
• There is a danger of binge-watching an entire series
• Teens can be affected by what is televised
• Teens need to know where to get help
• The issues resonate with teens
• Good guidelines are needed
• Screen time needs regulating
• Hard, open questions need answers
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Source: Mental Health Foundation