Sesame Street tackles more than the ABCs and 123s with a new educational outreach program for children.
The iconic children’s television program has recently launched a new campaign called “Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration,” which, according to sesamestreet.org is geared toward helping children ages 3-8 cope when a parent is incarcerated:
The website contains a number of techniques and tools that will help families deal with the challenges that result from this situation. Among the online resources featured in the program are videos, printable brochures, cellphone apps, and illustrated books. In addition to the online resources, information packs about this education initiative will be distributed to schools, community centers and jails.
The program outlines a number of ways that adult caregivers can help a young child cope, as well as tips specifically directed to the parents or caregivers of the children dealing with this situation. The incarcerated parent is offered suggestions about how they can help their kids cope as well.
CBS News said:
Sesame Street, in its simple, familiar way, is trying to break [incarceration] down, using imaginary characters to explore—and explain—what was once unimaginable, but now more and more common.
Overall, the response has been a positive one. Eve Vawter, who blogs for mommyish.com wrote:
I think it’s important that little kids are given ways to cope with their feelings, because they shouldn’t be punished for a crime the adult they love has committed. Once again, I love you Sesame Street!
However, there are other ways to look at this as well. Mike Riggs, a blogger with Reason Magazine, wrote, “Congratulations, America, on making it almost normal to have a parent in prison or jail.” While Mr. Riggs may be addressing the bigger issue of incarceration rates in America, the point he seems to be missing is that the children of those people who have gone to prison have no control over their circumstances. We believe that by ignoring the issue of parents who are incarcerated, we are essentially shaming the children who are truly the innocent victims in these cases.
What do you think?
EDITOR’S NOTE: Mike Riggs has since clarified his position in a post, here.