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Sesame Street:Incarceration

Posted by on Jun. 19, 2013 at 9:29 AM
JRM
  • 76 Replies
'Sesame Street' creates first Muppet to have a parent in jail

June 17, 2013 at 10:45 AM ET

Alex is part of a Sesame Workshop online took kit aimed to help children with a parent behind bars understand and cope with the situation.

Those friendly, fuzzy Muppets from “Sesame Street” have helped kids open up about all sorts of serious subjects, from hunger and divorce to military deployment.

But they’re now tackling a much more unexpected issue: incarceration.

Meet Alex, the first Muppet to have a dad in jail. According to a Pew Charitable Trusts report, one in 28 children in the United States now has a parent behind bars -- more than the number of kids with a parent who is deployed -- so it’s a real issue, but it’s talked about far less because of the stigma.

That’s why the Sesame Workshop says it created the “Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration” initiative, an online tool kit intended to help kids with a parent in prison find support and comfort, and provide families with strategies and tips to talk to their children about incarceration.


Alex is blue-haired and green-nosed and he wears a hoodie – you might think he’s just another carefree inhabitant of Sesame Street. But there’s sorrow in Alex’s voice when he talks about his father.

“I just miss him so much,” he tells a friend. “I usually don’t want people to know about my Dad.”

It’s easier for kids to hear such things from a Muppet than an adult, creators of the initiative noted.

“Coming from a Muppet, it’s almost another child telling their story to the children,” said Jeanette Betancourt, vice president of outreach and educational practices at the Sesame Workshop.

Alex will not be part of the regular cast on “Sesame Street,” but he’s playing a central role in the online tool kit.

Children of parents behind bars often feel sadness, shame and guilt about the situation, so they need to know they are loved and that the incarceration is not their fault, said Carol Burton, executive director of Centerforce, a non-profit dedicated to supporting families impacted by incarceration.

“There are several million children impacted by incarceration in this country,” Burton said. “No one is paying attention to them.”

The project and its unusual subject matter have garnered a lot of attention, with some observers calling it a sign of the times.

"Congratulations, America, on making it almost normal to have a parent in prison or jail," wrote a columnist on Reason.com.
by on Jun. 19, 2013 at 9:29 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Seashell77
by Member on Jun. 19, 2013 at 9:38 AM
4 moms liked this

This is a good idea in my opinion. I hope it helps kids who have parents in jail to feel better and not feel responsible for their parent's actions. Also maybe other kids (whose parents aren't in jail) will understand better how it feels to be a kid with parents in jail and not bully them or misjudege those children. I think this is a good thing all around to have on Sesame Street !good

prommy
by Silver Member on Jun. 19, 2013 at 9:38 AM
6 moms liked this

 "Congratulations, America, on making it almost normal to have a parent in prison or jail," wrote a columnist on Reason.com.

 

I don't think this is a bad idea. Why should the children be made to feel different or separate because the parent did something stupid and ended up in jail? it isn't the kids fault but kids can be mean and I bet there are a lot of kids in the country who are ostracized because mommy/daddy is in prison.

PamR
by Pam on Jun. 19, 2013 at 9:39 AM
2 moms liked this

There are children who have parents in jail.  It's not the child's fault.  If it helps a kid to explore how they feel about their parent(s) being incarcerated, what's the problem? 

momtoscott
by Platinum Member on Jun. 19, 2013 at 9:42 AM

I don't have a problem with it.  It's certainly a problem that many kids face.   Isn't something like 1% of the population in jail or prison at any given time?  

SherryBerry106
by on Jun. 19, 2013 at 9:44 AM
4 moms liked this

This country has lost it's mind.

Lizardannie1966
by on Jun. 19, 2013 at 9:49 AM
3 moms liked this

I think this is an awesome idea and SS once again demonstrating it understands the feelings of its viewers.

It can help the little guys who watch SS maybe understand why Mom or dad is in jail a little better and even help them feel like they're not alone.

Thumbs up!

Lizardannie1966
by on Jun. 19, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Can I ask why you write this?

Quoting SherryBerry106:

This country has lost it's mind.


SherryBerry106
by on Jun. 19, 2013 at 9:53 AM
2 moms liked this

 

Why in the world would we try to normalize more abhorrent behavior?

We already do quite enough of that.

Quoting Lizardannie1966:

Can I ask why you write this?

Quoting SherryBerry106:

This country has lost it's mind.



 

SherryBerry106
by on Jun. 19, 2013 at 9:55 AM
2 moms liked this

 

Well since NPR viewers are about 98% libs - that's does make a little sense.

Quoting Lizardannie1966:

I think this is an awesome idea and SS once again demonstrating it understands the feelings of its viewers.

It can help the little guys who watch SS maybe understand why Mom or dad is in jail a little better and even help them feel like they're not alone.

Thumbs up!


 

Lizardannie1966
by on Jun. 19, 2013 at 10:02 AM
4 moms liked this

It's not an attempt to "normalize."

It's an attempt to help kid's who watch the show and who have a parent sitting in jail not feel alone or that THEY are somehow bad, too.

I cannot see where that should be a problem or wrong.

This program caters to children and not the part of society that doesn't seem to grasp the importance of kid's feeling like they're not alone and that they're accepted themselves.

Quoting SherryBerry106:


Why in the world would we try to normalize more abhorrent behavior?

We already do quite enough of that.

Quoting Lizardannie1966:

Can I ask why you write this?

Quoting SherryBerry106:

This country has lost it's mind.





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