Sesame Street, that 40 year stalwart of children's television, has launched a new multimedia project, aimed specifically at the children of incarcerated parents, to help them articulate their emotional response to the situation. Targeted at the 3 to 8 year old age bracket, the venture “Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration” includes videos and other activities for both the children affected and for their primary guardians. Available in English and Spanish on the new 'Sesame Street in Communities' YouTube channel, the videos are the latest in a series that has included advice for young children on how to deal with their parent's divorce and how to handle emergency situations.
Incarceration can have a devastating effect on the family, increasing the risk of childhood behavioural problems by 33% and childhood depression or anxiety by 20%. Nearly 2.7 million American children are growing up with a parent who is in prison. In a press release about the new initiative, Sesame Street said the project was designed to:
Support, comfort, and reduce anxiety, sadness, and confusion that young children may experience during the incarceration of a parent. The number of children with an incarcerated parent has increased nearly 80% in the past 20 years. Nearly 2.7 million children have a parent in state or federal prison, yet few resources exist to support young children and families with this life-changing circumstance.
You can see a selection of the videos here:
Although many will bristle at the fact that the project is sponsored by BAE Systems, the videos are a vital addition to previous the Sesame Street initiatives that have provided support and guidance for children all over the world.