Avalon Park school sends letter to parents addressing '13 Reasons Why'

New Netflix series generates buzz, even at Orange County elementary school

AVALON PARK, Fla. – An Orange County elementary school is warning parents about a new Netflix show with mature content that has students talking.

The Netflix original "13 Reasons Why" is based on the 2007 novel by the same name. The storyline chronicles the 13 people a teenage girl claims were the reason she decided to commit suicide.

Parents of fifth-graders at Stone Lakes Elementary in Avalon Park received a letter from the school, warning them that children are talking about the mature subject matter in the classroom.

"It has been brought to our attention that some fifth-graders are watching a Netflix original show called '13 Reasons Why' and / or (are) reading the book with the same title.

"The book and series are fictional, about a high school girl (who) commits suicide and leaves behind tapes for the people in her life to listen to – that explain the '13 reasons why' she decided to kill herself.   

"While we support and encourage open communication with your children about such a sensitive subject, this particular book/TV series is written for a mature audience. The TV rating for the Netflix show is TV-MA and the book is listed as 'mature teen.' Besides depicting the suicide itself in a somewhat graphic nature, there is frequent use of profanity, alcohol and sexually explicit material (both in the book and the TV show).

"Of course this is a personal/family decision and you know your child best. As a school, we just want to inform you and let you know that although all the students are not reading/watching – the ones that are have been talking about it at school. If you are allowing your student to read the book, please have them keep their copy at home as the material is not appropriate for an elementary school campus.

"Here’s a link in case you want to read about what it entails.

"Please talk to your children, and let us know if you have any questions or concerns."

News 6 spoke to several parents who said the school is being proactive by addressing the controversial show, which has gained popularity since its release last month.

"If there is a conversation happening at school, where they are talking about it, then parents need to know, 'What is my child watching?' Any kid can go on Netflix and find the most interesting things on there," said Cara Kane, who has two children at the school.

Kane said since the letter was sent home, out of curiosity, she's watched about four episodes.

"It really helped to bring (the issues) to light," Kane said. "Talk to your kids. Know what they are watching and more importantly, have the conversation about the content of what they are watching and how that might affect them on a daily basis. So, for us I thought it was a really good thing for our school."

As of now, it's unclear if any other schools in the Orange County Public School district will send a letter home to parents.

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