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

Sesame Street is aimed at toddlers.... this issue is too much for toddlers and I wouldn't want my 2-4 year olds watching this. What does Sesame Street hope to accomplish by this? Are they going to discuss why Alex's dad is in Jail (was he a drug dealer; a rapist; a murderer)? Or the length of his incarceration (life without the possibility of parole)? Or will they have Alex visiting his father in prison and getting searched by Correctional Officers before being able to see his father? Will Alex receive letters from his father with a picture of his dad in the infamous "jail-house-pose" sporting an orange jumpsuit?

I take my children to Sesame Place every summer... do I have to look forward to a Jail-house shower attraction now? Sorry...I know that last comment was a bit much... but I think so is this topic for toddlers. There are plenty of various support groups out there for families where parents are incarcerated... don't think taking it to tots on Sesame should be added to that list.
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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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