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New York school district bans "Squid Game" Halloween costumes in elementary schools due to "potential violent messages"

Multiple elementary schools in New York have banned Halloween costumes that depict characters from the hit Netflix show "Squid Game," citing its mature content and violence. "Squid Game," which was Netflix's biggest series launch ever, is about a group of financially struggling adults in South Korea playing deadly, gory versions of children's games in hopes of winning a cash prize.

The superintendent of the Fayetteville-Manlius School District, which includes the elementary schools Enders Road, Mott Road and Fayetteville, told CBS News in a statement that school principals "wanted to make sure our families are aware that it would be inappropriate for any student to wear to school a Halloween costume from this show because of the potential violent messages aligned with the costume." 

Parents were informed of the decision in an email, a spokesperson for the school said. 

Under the Fayetteville-Manlius School District's guidelines, Halloween costumes with items "that can be interpreted as weapons" like toy swords or guns, and costumes that are "too gory or scary" are not allowed at school events, Superintendent Dr. Craig Tice told CBS News in the statement. 

The television thriller is rated for mature audiences by Netflix for its use of language, violence, sex, nudity, suicide and smoking. Netflix says the show "may not be suitable for ages 17 and under." 

Squid Game red light, green light
An image from the first episode of "Squid Game." Youngkyu Park / Netflix

Tice said some students have been reenacting games from the show at recess, and that principals have asked families to speak with their children and "reinforce the school message that games associated with violent behavior are not appropriate for recess."

Some parents said the school's crackdown on costumes is "overbearing," CBS New York reported

"It's a costume," one parent in the Bronx said. "Just don't let your kids watch the show." 

Other schools have also issued warnings regarding the suitability of the show's content for children. Earlier this month, Central Integrated Primary School in the United Kingdom warned parents to "please be aware of what your children are accessing." 

"In this programme there are mass killings, torture and scenes of a sexual nature," the school wrote on Facebook. "It is classed as hyper violent and is most definitely not appropriate for primary aged children to be watching."

Bay District Schools in Panama City, Florida, issued a similar statement. 

"Some children are trying to replicate show scenes at school but what sounds harmless (who didn't play Red Light/Green Light as a kid?) is not actually harmless because the game in the television show includes "elimination" (death) and we are seeing kids trying to actually hurt each other in the name of this 'game,'" the district said. "We don't want anyone to get hurt and we don't want to generate discipline referrals for students who don't really understand what they are re-enacting." 

A school in Ireland and a school in Spain have also banned "Squid Game" costumes, according to CBS New York. 

With the show's popularity and worker shortages, getting a "Squid Game" costume in time for Halloween may be challenging. Because many outlets selling the item ship from Asia, costumes may not arrive in time unless customers pay extra for expedited shipping.

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