J is for Jail: Sesame Street Muppet with Dad in Jail

The creators of Sesame Street have always kept up with modern issues facing today's children. They've tackled hunger, divorce, military deployment, and even loss of a friend. Now, the lesson turns to incarceration.

Meet Alex, the muppet whose dad is 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.

A. Pawlowski of TODAY has more: Link


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Thanks for your post; 2 years ago I was reading Curious George to a group of kindergarten students. At one point, George gets taken to jail. A little girl piped right up, "Oh, just like my daddy!" It was like a flootgate opened -- several other students joined in, "Yeah, my cousin too!" or, "My brother was in jail," and even a, "My mom gets home soon!"

It's great that it's not a reality for a lot of kids, but why cast aspersions on the affected children? They didn't get arrested. They just love someone who did. Kudos to Sesame Street for creating materials just for them. A pity the Alex muppet will only 'live' online and not on the Street proper; seems like a lot of adults could learn something from him too.
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Elmo's World is aimed at 2-4, but Sesame Street is targeted at a somewhat older audience. Are they going to show Alex visiting his dad? I don't know. Lots of children's picture books do. Why not make a video that helps kids prepare for that experience?

I cannot understand the objections to this program. Children of prisoners are innocent and need special care, not punishment for the crimes of their parents. Caregivers can go online and find these resources for those children.

How is it possible be upset at Sesame Street Workshop for helping children who have this terrible experience?
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So all of those children live in a bubble and don't interact with other kids?
Even if a kid ONLY goes to preschool or daycare, they could encounter 10-30 other kids a day. Many children with incarcerated parents get ostracized by other children because somehow it's THAT child's fault their parent is in jail, or THAT child must be "bad," as well. I've seen it happen.

This will teach OTHER children about sympathy/empathy/understanding for their classmates or friends who have parents in jail.
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I love this! Kudos to Sesame Street.
I was doing a read-aloud with some second graders last year (Frindle) and one kid asked why we never see the main character's brother even though we know he has one. I asked the kids if any of them have brothers or sisters that are sometimes away from home for a while. One little girl raised her hand. And I asked her about it (expecting the sibling to be in college or living with another parents). She told me "He's in jail." A bit shocked, I offered my condolences. She responded, "It's OK. He did something bad and got in trouble for it. Now he knows not to do bad things anymore."
Kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for and this is something that a lot of kids can relate to (no matter the age).
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What do they hope to accomplish by this, you mean other than showing children that they have the support? That they are not alone and that they are experiencing something that kids all across the country are as well. It's an ONLINE toolkit. Which means, it's online. As in the internet. As in you have to physically go to a website to look for it and find it.

I'm happy to see Sesame street explain something to children. What will they do next?! Talk about death!? God forbid your kids learn about real life issues.
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