Unless you’ve been sequestered in a cave in the Himalayas recently, you’ve probably heard about the Netflix hit 13 Reasons Why, based on the book of the same name by Jay Asher. It’s a fantastic and hard-to-watch drama about a teenager who commits suicide but leaves behind a series of audio cassettes calling people out for bullying, apathy, and more. These are her 13 reasons for doing what she does.
As a parent watching this show, I felt horrified and frightened by what I saw. When I was in high school, no one had cell phones. The internet was still in its infancy — I went online for the first time the summer between high school and college. Sure, there was bullying, but the word “cyberbullying” hadn’t even been invented yet.
Which makes what this group of students in Oakland, CA is doing even more remarkable. They’re growing up in this world where bullying can follow a student home every day.
And students at Oxford High School are giving 13 reasons why NOT.
According to the Oakland Press News:
Beginning this week and continuing for 13 days, a recording of a different student will play during the morning announcements. In the recording, played for the entire student body, the teens reveal a problem they’re struggling with. At the end of the recording, instead of blaming someone, the students thank a classmate who has helped them.
Pam Fine, dean of students at Oxford, came up with the idea to honor freshman Megan Abbott, who committed suicide four years ago. Fine said:
I watched the series. I thought it accurately depicted the problems that teenagers in high school are facing now. But it was incredibly troubling to me that suicide was portrayed as being, almost, inevitable, like she had no other option.
The student body was not aware of the project until they heard the first announcement on Monday, May 1, given by senior Riley Junttii.
Junttii laid out her heart for her fellow students, then thanked a classmate for listening when no one else did. And the response was tremendous:
Juntti’s phone and social media accounts blew up with support from her classmates – some who she’s never met. One tweet read, ‘Riley Juntti is braver than anyone for doing what she did.’
In 13 Reasons Why, one of the main characters, Clay, says:
It has to get better…the way we treat each other and look out for each other. It has to get better somehow.
I think Oxford High School is off to a good start in doing just that.
Featured image via Pexels