Sesame Street Takes On Challenging Topic: Parents in Prison


Sesame Street has always been about helping kids learn not just how to count and spell, but also to deal with everyday issues. Unfortunately for America, its prison population has grown so large now that Sesame Street has felt compelled to create an online kit to help kids deal with when their parents get sent to the slammer. After all, more than 2.5 million American kids have a parent in prison.

Entitled “Little Children, Big Challenges, Incarceration,” the package provides videos and activities for kids between the ages of 3- to 8-years-old, such as the animated “Visiting Dad in Prison” and a “You’re Not Alone” musical number with Abby Cadabby and other Muppets, as well as tips for caregivers on how to help children deal with incarcerated parents.[more]

The Atlantic notes that the main sponsor of the kit is BAE Systems, a “British contractor, whose US subsidiary is one of the largest suppliers to the Department of Defense, which depends—like many other defense contractors—on the low-overhead labor of prisoners incarcerated at for-profit facilities.” Hmmm.

The kit focuses mostly on the emotional toll that can be paid when a parent is in prison and how to lessen that blow. That alone is a very good thing, said University of Wisconsin psychologist Julie Poehlmann, who worked as an advisor on the project: “Half of families say nothing,” she told the Huffington Post. “Another third say the parent is in the hospital or something like that. They don’t know how to talk about it. The more our society can recognize the need to talk about this issue, the less stigmatized these kids will be.”