I know, I know, some of you may be cringing or judging me as a mother right now. First, yes, the series contains mature content and subject matter. It also contains foul language, acts of bullying, graphic depictions of violence, assault, and rape, sexual situations and partial nudity. This may be upsetting or trigger inducing to some viewers.
It also contains a VERY realistic story-line about a highschool student who commits suicide. Via cassette tape, she outlines a series of events that led her to that point in her life.
So why would I recommend this? Because these horrific situations happen everyday and they are not isolated events. It's very eye-opening, especially in a digital age, how a seemingly minor incident can be twisted, blown out of proportion and shared, in a matter of seconds. This is serious and life altering for a teenager.
I especially implore you to watch the interview at the end, even skip the series and go straight to the interview if you want. We need to talk about these topics with each other, with our children. Sure, maybe you think you can talk about it without watching it (we fast-fwd through objectionable scenes, truth be told). However, even the parents depicted in this series are clueless. Not by choice. Everyone is trying but at the same time, they are trapped within the same 'system'. Looking out for themselves, hoping they don't become targets.
It clearly and accurately depicts the depth of pain that can occur over something that appears so trivial on the surface. The nature of relationships, hierarchy of survival and dynamics within teen (and even young adult) culture.
What is the redeeming factor of watching a series like this? Awareness. Having the hard conversations with your kids. Changing our own patterns of behavior toward each other. Pursuing real relationship with others and potentially the teens within our community or sphere of influence.
I think I have a good relationship with my kids but there are still things I don't know. I don't spend the 4 hours at the skate park with my son. I don't sit in their writing class with them. I am not at the dance studio. And I am considered a very involved parent. There is autonomy so it is impossible to know everything in one's heart, even those closest to us. But we can try.
I pursue relationship with my kids. But we have to be honest. We have to be safe and approachable. We HAVE to look beyond the surface of our children's lives and watch for the nuances of communication and BE there. We have to listen, even if we're tired. There aren't always signs of trauma but we need to pay attention when our children are trying.
We need to teach them that we can be trusted. Even with the hard stuff. Even with their dumb, or worse, choices.
Yes, we need Jesus. Guess what? Depression, despair, bullying, assault, violence and rape...all exists even with Jesus. They exist within our churches. In our youth groups. In our sanctuaries.
Lets start talking about it!
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
24 Hour – Local Referrals
1-888-628-9454 (En Espanol)
VETERANS PRESS “1"
California Youth Crisis Line
24 Hours Bilingual