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Back to School Necklace: What Parents Need to Know

Words by
Abby Alger

SEP 26, 2023

Back to School Necklace: What Parents Need to Know

As a child, I loved summer and never wanted the freedom of roaming around the neighborhood to end. 

Current generations have developed new slang for the dread one feels when the school year starts again: the back to school necklace trend.

When it comes to this new teen slang, parents may be unaware of its real, grave implications. 

What is a Back to School Necklace? 

While back to school necklace sounds innocent, it is code for death and references a noose used for death by hanging.

Also called a noose necklace, kids today use this term to talk about the utter despair you feel when returning to school.

This slang gives a glimpse into the heightened mental health issues students face today.

Do kids have more pressure today?

As a parent and a former teacher, I have observed heightened academic expectations and a heartbreaking increase in mental health struggles in students.

The research agrees—kids today have more pressures in and outside of school. The academic expectations have risen, with many teens receiving the message that the only path to success is by attending the top universities.

Coupled with social media pressures that the surgeon general has warned harms the mental health of children, a perfect storm for mental illness seems to have formed.

“The rigor of schoolwork, along with toxicity across social media, relationships and academic competition all end up supporting a fatal backbone of a culture full of negativity.” – Sarah Woo, Coppel Student Media

These pressures are believed to contribute to the nearly 60% increase of death by suicide for kids ages 10-24 between 2007 and 2018

Back to School Necklace Pictures

Kids today communicate visually, often using emojis and images. If you find your child is downloading or sharing images of nooses or self-harm emojis, it could be a sign of depression or intent self-harm. Talk to your teen and get professional help as needed. 

back to school necklace slang picture

Back to School Necklace Trend: What Parents Can Do

Parents can work towards open communication with their kids and teens. While we know this is easier said than done, it’s important to listen to your teens.

Relieve the pressure

Kids can learn from caregivers that while their education is important, there are several paths to success in life based on their individual traits and interests.

The world needs plumbers as much as they need brain surgeons, and technical and trade careers are high in demand.

Parents can model a growth mindset where failure is a learning tool for their kids to help build their resilience. Kids (and adults) can learn self-compassion and know that their worth is not dependent on how the world measures success.

two moms talking to each other

Talk about mental health

While some kids may just be following along by talking about the back to school necklace trend, it can be a serious sign of depression or a warning sign of suicidal ideation.

If you find your child is referencing back to school necklaces this school season, don’t be afraid to ask them about it.

Studies have shown that talking to your child about suicide does not put the idea in their mind, but rather decreases mental health stigma and increases people getting support. In short, talking about suicide appropriately can help. 

If you suspect your child is in immediate danger, you can call 911 or take them to the nearest emergency room for help. 

You are not alone. There are resources to help. Reach out to mental health professionals for your child and yourself. The suicide prevention line, 988, can be called or texted for support. 

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention can provide help as well. Parents can choose to be certified in “mental health CPR” to learn the best practices to help loved ones in crisis. 

The Role of Technology

When and how to introduce your kid to technology is an important decision. The U.S. Surgeon General’s recent mental health advisory cited a large body of research when warning about the link between smartphone usage— specifically social media—and serious mental health concerns. 

In Dr. Vivek’s words, “There are ample indicators that social media can . . . have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.”

If your child is mature enough to need a device that allows them to stay connected while out and about, then consider a device free of social media and other harmful apps. There are better options available than adult devices with some safety features tacked on as an afterthought. 

The right tools can definitely help but even more important is the relationship you have with your child. 

Working to maintain an open dialogue about online dangers and supporting them as they develop into expert digital citizens will allow them to develop a healthy relationship with technology.

How do you help your child adjust when a new school year begins? Let us know in the comments.

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