Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stop the Presses!

I stopped reading the news long ago because I felt it was plagued with what the ‘media thought we should know’, which is usually about celebrities. I’m tired of hearing about celebrities, and too many people are obsessed with celebrity lives instead of their own. When you have to read and gossip about someone else’s life, then that means you haven’t been living your own. But I regress.

Living in Germany, I don’t watch the local news in the States, but I do get Bing highlights when I open my browser. I came across this article about Sesame Street. When I was a child, I couldn’t wait to watch Sesame Street along with Romper Room, and they helped me learn to count and learn my ABC’s.

Because of the overwhelming number of Americans in jail these days, or have been in jail, Sesame Street decided to introduce a Muppet called, Alex, whose dad is in prison. “Alex, who wears a hoodie, gives voice to kids who might feel that they don't otherwise have one.” Take a look at a clip of one of the segments. Adults can learn many lessons from this video.

The idea is great for helping children cope with a life situation they didn’t create. Sesame Street is a wonderful teaching tool for children. Unfortunately, it shouldn't have to teach children about feeling like an outcast because their parent is in jail. It's a time for them to learn about playing well with others, sharing, etc.  

This says volumes about where our society is headed. Gone are the days of innocence. Children are bombarded, damaged and bruised by adult actions. These childhood issues cause anxiety and various other psychological problems, and in some cases, children grow up and mirror their parent’s actions.

Since 2002, the U.S. has the highest jail rates. “As of 2010, the rate was 500 prisoners per 100,000 citizens, compared with an average of 100 prisoners per 100,000 citizens in peer countries. Incarceration rates are significantly higher for American blacks and Latinos than for whites.” These statistics are disheartening. America has lost its vision for opportunity and the American dream. I highly doubt anyone who came to America thought prison was a dream. Many people from other cultures came to America to make their dreams come true and succeeded.

All I can say is these ‘new efforts’ from Sesame Street are commendable and depressing at the same time.

Sesame Street and Jail,


  1. Sadly, Sesame Street's attempts at discussing such topics may be the only chance such children ever get to try to process the feelings they are having about their parent. I always felt so ashamed of my mother's mental illness, and to talk about it (even in the family) was not going to happen. Part of healing means opening lines of communication. But yeah, it is a bit depression that a show known for early childhood education now must address such issues.

    1. You're right about the program may be the only opportunity children will get to discuss their feelings. I think years ago, it was common practice not to discuss any 'family issues'. It's too bad, because so many children grow up still unable to process and deal with their past.

  2. Thanks Bea for sharing. Sesame Street was a favorite for my girls too when they were little.

    I saw this piece on TV and was glad for their insight to address this and help children living it. Maybe, it will be the beginning where they can talk about other topics with children, as well.

    They have a unique way of reaching and teaching children.

    1. So true about Sesame Street. Other children's programs wouldn't want, or know how, to tackle such sensitive matters. I can't see Sponge Bob or Dora the Explorer dealing with these types of issues.

    2. My dad walked out on us when I was ten and I never heard from him again until my 21st birthday. But you don't even get to be a kid when you're suddenly without a dad and your mom is suffering from depression and trying to work two jobs. But if I had seen something like this, I think maybe it would have helped. But you grow up so fast and I wonder if I would have just thought the show was for babies. But we didn't have a t.v. so I don't know.

  3. Strange as it might seem, I never saw Sesame Street as a kid. By the time we had cable and were able to pick up PBS I was too old for it. I did watch the muppet show on a nightly basis though.

    I do find it disturbing that something like this is happening on a kids show. It seems that we are pushing them to grow up so much faster now. When do they get to be kids?