Sesame Street reaches out to 2.7 million American children with an incarcerated parent.

Last week, Sesame Street added a new character, to whom more than 2.7 million American children can now relate. The show introduced Alex, a child whose father is in prison, in a video included in the online interactive, “Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration.”

The “Little Children, Big Challenges” feature aims to reach children facing complex challenges, including bullying, sibling rivalry and parental incarceration.

Recent reports indicate that more than half of inmates in the US have children under the age of 18. As a result, there are more than 2.7 million children with a parent that is incarcerated (that translates to 3.6% or 1 in 28 American children). Most of the parents (66%) are incarcerated for non-violent crimes.

The Sesame Street website provides tips for caregivers to help the growing number of children affected by incarceration and features videos of both real-world children and Sesame Street characters sharing their own experiences with the subject.

Check out their tool-kit here. Well done Sesame Street, well done. 

When the media does things right.

The U.S. has the world’s highest incarceration rate*, more than five times that of China.

Non-white offenders receive longer sentences, particularly young non-white males.

Crime rates have been falling for decades in the U.S. but incarceration rates continue to skyrocket. Is that because prisons are keeping “bad people" off the streets? Not if Canada (and Europe and Australia and etc.) is any indication.

I’m glad that Sesame Street is doing this. But as a nation, we need to start asking ourselves how we ended up living in a country that imprisons six times more of its people per capita than any other country in North America or western Europe.

* Except arguably North Korea.

This is why Sesame Street is so important.

Published by

The Sleepcoat League

Armchair anthropologist, sometime scribe, freelance philosopher, amateur artist, part-time poet, musical maven, alliteration aficionado.

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