FILER, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Mr. Shane Hild, the principal at Filer Middle school, sent an email out to parents Wednesday warning them about the Netflix series "13 Reasons Why" and the apps he's heard about at school surrounding it.
These apps encourage students to participate in self-harm and then post it to social media. Some even go as for as to encourage kids to commit suicide.
He said he got mostly positive response from parents.
"It was just good information that's very serious in the lives of our children, Said Wendy Jenkins, who has an eighth-grade son at Filer Middle.
She said sometimes teachers know things she doesn't as a parent.
"They're here sometimes more than they're at our homes and they have a great influence on our children," she said.
"We have the kids every day and we see them in their social context, said Hild. "Middle school, junior high is when they're really coming into their social media world and it's a very tricky world and a lot of stuff that's frankly not very healthy for kids."
He said he wants to help inform parents about the apps that have appeared in the wake of the show.
"Parents need as much info as they can on that stuff so they can be on the lookout for things that could be harmful for a 13-year-old kid."
Wendy said as a parent she has a hard time swallowing the content in these shows and apps.
"It is disturbing that things like that are out there and that kids are allowed and can watch it," she said.
She added she's grateful the school helps keep her informed and her child safe.
"It is good for them to let us know what's out there."
Below is the full content of the letter parents received.
"Dear Parents and Concerned Patrons of FMS,
One of the constant issues facing youth today is the social media environment, entertainment, and the "trending nature" of certain issues.
One of the things that is "trending" right now in youth culture is a Netflix series called "13 Reasons Why". I haven't watched the series but I have read much about it. The basic story line is a young girl commits suicide, and in the series she explains 13 reasons why she did it. A lot of it deals with social media bullying and other areas of bullying and whatnot that she dealt with. It is a work of fiction, but as they say "art imitates life."
The primary concern with the series is that some of the "add on" or "apps" that have been developed that reference the series glorify suicide, self-harm, and even one has been created so that persons can video tape themselves harming themselves or doing various "dangerous" things and can get paid for doing it. Yes, it's as crazy as it sounds.
These apps have ratings on them and users must check that they are 18 and the like. But unfortunately as we know kids, they aren't always "truthful" with such things.
The best defense against stuff like this is education. Education of our students, parents, and community so that we all can be as vigilant as possible. Our school filter blocks Netlfix, and blocks such apps from being downloaded on school devices. None of that prevents students from doing their own thing, on their own devices, on their home network or other "open" wifi hot spots.
My best advice to parents is know what your kids are watching online via Netflix or other entertainment sites. Know what apps they are downloading, and have discussions with them about these things. Your internet/phone service provider can help with parent blocks, or controls on your home devices and/or phones.
I felt it necessary to get this information out to you, so that you can make informed decisions with your teenage sons and daughters.
Ms. Meduna, our counselor, is available to speak with students who may have questions, and/or concerns. Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have.
Principal-Filer Middle School"