13 Helpful Tips For Viewing Season 2 of ’13 Reasons Why’
By: Amy Wilkerson, Prevention Education Specialist at Albion Fellows Bacon Center
Warning: This article discusses topics including suicide and sexual assault.
I read the book 13 Reasons Why several years ago. When I found out Netflix was making it into a TV series, I was looking forward to watching it with my 14-year-old. As a parent, violence prevention educator and advocate, I try to stay current on books, movies, TV shows and media that interest adolescents. The show was met with quite a bit of criticism on season 1’s handling of the topic of suicide. I remember hearing discussions and concerns from viewers of all ages, so my hope is to address what you should expect from season 2 of the Netflix series.
Season 2 picks up five months after the first season ends. This time the show starts the season right with a trigger warning, and offers resources and provides viewing tips at the beginning. Resources are given at the end of every subsequent episode. The website www.13reasonswhy.info has video clips with the show’s actors addressing some of the issues in the show and links for resources for all of the topics the show touches on: suicide, LGBTQ, sexual assault, depression, anxiety, substance use and abuse, bullying, gun violence, mental health, and more. The second season focuses on lots of issues, but there is strong focus on sexual assault.
Consent and Survivor Support
Most importantly for teens, season 2 delves into what consent is and what consent is not. Any intimate scene with the show’s Bryce Walker character demonstrates emotional coercion, intimidation, or his interaction with someone who clearly is under the influence and cannot give consent. In Bryce’s story line, the show explores the unfortunate failures of the justice system in some sexual assault cases.
Alternately, there are several scenes with examples of consent every step of the way and respect for partners’ boundaries with both verbal and visual cues. For example, some characters talk about consent and ask questions like, “Do you want to keep going?” and, “Is this okay?”
As the season continues, many friends of the survivor are angry. This can be a normal response, but we need to think about how our anger impacts the survivor. Respecting the survivor’s choices and boundaries is important for the survivor’s healing. Here are some guidelines and tips if someone confides in you about an assault:
Tip #1 Believe them. The first person a victim reports to could be vital for the recovery and mental health of the victim. According to a compilation of three studies from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, only 2-8%*of reported cases were resulted from someone lying about a sexual assault. It is not common that a victim is lying about the assault.
Tip #2 Listen to them. Assess their safety but do not press for details of the assault.
Tip #3 Do not ask victim-blaming questions. (i.e. What were you doing there that late? Did you lead them on? Are you sure you said no? Did you send mixed signals?) Let them know they did nothing to deserve this. Sexual assault is about power and control. It is a crime.
Tip #4 Provide them with resources such as a local rape crisis center, school social worker, resource officer, or trusted adult. Offer to go with them to the emergency room or to help them talk to a trusted adult or other resource.
Many story lines in 13 Reasons Why concern someone who has witnessed or been a bystander to bullying, violence, sexual harassment and sexual assault. Many feel regret that they didn’t step in. It is important to understand that we all play a role in violence prevention.
Bystander intervention can be used in almost all of the situations in 13 Reasons Why. There are four Ds in bystander intervention: Direct, Distract, Delegate and Delay.
Tip #5 Notice the situation and identify the situation as a problem. Does your gut tell you something is not right?
Tip#6 Are you able to safely respond? If so, choose an action to intervene.
Tip#7 Direct: If you see something, say something! “You need to leave”, “You need to stop”, “This is not okay”, “Are you alright?” or “Do you need help?”
Tip #8 Delegate: Not everyone is confident to step up and be direct and sometimes it may not be safe, but you can delegate. Tell another friend to do something, call the police, or go to an adult. If you can‘t do it, find someone who can.
Tip #9 Distraction: This can be verbal like “Hey, did you get the bio homework?” or “Can you help me with my hair?”
Tip #10 Think you missed an opportunity to intervene? Don’t worry. You still can. Delay: Let the person that was the victim or target know that you are there for them or tell the offender that you are not okay with this behavior.
13 Reasons Why brings to light many difficult – but common – issues today’s teens face. I highly recommend checking out www.13reasonswhy.info for more information and a discussion guide for viewing with your teen. Viewer discretion of both seasons of the show is strongly advised. I would not recommend 13 Reasons Why for younger audiences. There is strong language, graphic scenes of sexual assault, drug use and sex.
I hope you choose to watch 13 Reasons Why with your teen. If they’ve seen it already – please catch up! Here are some next step tips:
Tip #11 Listen to your teen or friend, student or child. Really listen. Problems adolescents are facing are real problems and need to be taken seriously.
Tip #12 Continue the conversations. By doing this, we can raise awareness and remove the stigma to break the silence about these issues.
Tip #13 Seek resources. If you need more information or help, remember, you don’t have to face this alone.
Albion Fellows Bacon Center
Southwest Behavioral Health
Tri State Alliance (TSA)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Available 24 hours every day)
This article was written by Amy Wilkerson, Prevention Education Specialist at Albion Fellows Bacon Center. Albion is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to prevent domestic and sexual violence and to empower victims through advocacy, education, support services and collaborative partnerships. The center provides services to victims of abuse (emotional, physical, sexual, and financial) in 11 counties in southern Indiana. Services are provided 24 hours a day to the following counties: Vanderburgh, Posey, Warrick, Spencer, Perry, Dubois, Gibson, Pike, Orange, Crawford, and Harrison. Albion’s services include a 24-hour crisis hotline, crisis response, emergency shelter, legal advocacy, crisis advocacy, support groups, community education, and prevention.