'Squid Game' Costumes Banned by US School District Over 'Violent Message'

Squid Game might be Netflix's biggest show, but one school district in New York is not a fan. CBSNewYork reports that three elementary schools near Syracuse have banned Squid Game inspired costumes at their Halloween events. The Fayetteville-Manlius district explained that they "do not meet our school costume guidelines due to the potential violent message aligned with the costume."

According to reports, some parents have found the administration's decision to be an overreach. "It's a costume. Just don't let your kids watch the show," said one parent. "For a school to actually impose that, that's being very overbearing," said another. The superintendent for White Plains, Dr. Joseph Ricca, is taking a different stance, claiming that banning costumes is a "slippery slope" and that his district will not be following suit. 

"We understand that different types of costumes have different types of experience and historical connections, and it's hard to single out one particular type of costume and say that's not allowed," Ricca said. "One of the things we've been hearing about in school districts all across the country, is children coming to school and playing squid games on the playground. It's never appropriate to play at harming one another and that really is the guiding principle here."

Considering the violent material in Squid Game, it's probably not appropriate viewing for children. The Korean drama is rated MA, and many have explained that developmentally, children are probably not ready to process the themes of the show. In an interview with The Daily Mail, psychologist Dr. Sandra Wheatley warned that young children might be encouraged to "stand by" or "join" bullying rather than helping their peers. She is worried the show could hurt younger viewers; "social and emotional development." Some children might not understand the violence in the show, she added. "It may make them question, 'why is nobody helping them?' Clearly there are messages there that we really don't want our kids to take on board," Wheatley said.

As with any incredibly violent piece of media that gets as much attention as Squid Game has, some parents have taken to social media to note how it might be inappropriate for children to watch. Laura Linn Knight, a parenting educator and former elementary school teacher, told Today Parents she believes the show is "not appropriate" for 9 to 10-year-olds. Netflix also has parental controls available, so parents can decide which shows are available to their children based on their ratings.

Since our brains are not fully developed until age 25, Knight believes that graphic violence can seem overwhelming for younger viewers. "Many parents think, 'My child can understand and differentiate between reality and fiction,'" Knight said. "But children cannot differentiate as much as we think. So when we're sending in these images and expecting them to do what an adult can do, it's unrealistic for them."

Knight later added that the show could be particularly scary because it adds a horror element to games they play on a daily basis. "They're taking childhood games that they're playing on the school yard, like red light/green light and tug of war, so children are actively playing these games with their friends," she told Today. "Now they're being exposed to it in a way where killing is involved and it's life-threatening."