"My Dad is in jail": Sesame Street Teaches Kids About America's Incarceration Epidemic


Sesame Street

Nearly seven million people are under correctional supervision in the U.S.; more than two million of them are in a jail or prison. If you want to know what those numbers mean for the American family, consider this: The makers of Sesame Street decided to design and release an educational kit titled "Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration."

The kit is "an educational outreach initiative for families with children (ages 3 – 8) who are coping with a parent's incarceration." Can you imagine telling a five-year-old about prison? "Our resources," say Sesame Streeters, "provide talking points and tools to help families manage the changes resulting from this situation and to find comfort in one another." (Ages 3-8? Christ in Heaven.)

Here are some of the kit's tips for parents and/or caretakers who are not in prison:

  • Let your child know what to expect during everyday activities. Tell her who will take her to school and who will pick her up.
  • Provide your child with a comfort item to keep during the day, such as a paper heart or family photo.
  • Ask your child questions to help her open up. You might notice a negative behavior and say, "Did something happen today that made you feel sad?"
Sesame Street

More tips: "Let your child know that the incarceration is not his fault….Let him know he's not alone." And here are tips for preserving a relationship between an incarcerated parent and child:

  • Phone calls are a great way to keep in touch. Help your child think of things to tell her parent. Give her a picture of the parent to hold during the call.
  • Use pen and paper to write letters. If your child can't yet write, ask her to tell you what to write; she can draw pictures to go with the words.
  • Televisiting can be helpful for some children. Sharing an everyday routine such as storytime during your televisit is a great way to be together.

The kit also includes a video episode about a young muppet named Alex whose dad is in jail. Check out the entire kit here. And congratulations, America, on making it almost normal to have a parent in prison or jail.

NEXT: Russ Feingold Also Warned Us About Secret Legal Justifications for Secret Surveillance

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  1. Jesus Reason, as if the cop kills puppy stories were not enough. Do you exist for the single purpose of driving your readers to despair?

    1. Libertarians will naturally despair when they see an unfree world around them. These stories are for the non-libertarian.

  2. If only the US was more free like Stalinist Russia or Maoist China.

    1. Shut the fuck up, butthurt moron.

    2. Obama’s working on it, so relax dipshit.

    3. Wooooooo, we arent the worst!

      Shut the fuck up, moron.

      1. Epi, sorry for the copyright violation, but fuck you, I dont support copyright.

        1. That’s perfectly fine, neither do I.

  3. Oscar the Grouch is a homeless guy who died while resisting arrest.

    Big Bird – ditto – he was a schizophrenic who kept talking about his imaginary friend.

    Grover is obviously a junkie with that constant cheerful attitude, so all his property was confiscated.

    Bert and Ernie were arrested one night in a public park – no points for guessing what *they* were doing.

    As for Gordon, whom some of you may remember –

    1. Grover wasn’t the drug user, the “Cookie” Monster was the druggie.

    2. So uh….what about Elmo?

      1. Sex addict. Always wanting to be tickled.

        1. Well, considering what happened to his puppeteer…

    3. Is Gordan wearing the red satin leisure suit?

      1. He’s the bald, bearded guy. You’re welcome.

  4. Here’s a depressing one:
    My uncle, an accomplished woodworker with a fully equiped 1500 sq/ft workshop, has volunteer groups come and make wood toys for prison visitor rooms. He started doing this a decade ago for the local state and county prisons. Other prisons heard about it and he has more requests than he can handle.

    Think of those little children, driving miles to see Daddy, who then has to ration his time between wife/baby mamma and other children. So they have some toys to play with till they get some time to shyly talk with their Daddy.

    Fucking breaks my heart.

    1. There is a Christian organization that does nothing but collect toys for parents in prison to give their kids. If these people were all guilty of no kidding violent crimes, I wouldn’t care. But knowing that most of them are there for bullshit just drives me nuts.

      1. Wait a minute?why wouldn’t it bother you that a lot of people had committed violent crimes? Isn’t it bad news if they have or haven’t, just of a different kind?

    2. Add to that the fact that many of those daddies are in there for non-violent drug posession…

    3. Why does fucking break your heart?

  5. “Let your child know that the incarceration is not his fault

    I dunno about that. I’ve seen too many news stories of kids taking their parents’ drug/gun stash to show and tell.

    1. And what if Daddy’s in the slammer for not paying child support?

      1. Then it’s the rethuglican’s fault for opposing contraception mandates.

  6. WTF happened to my comment asking if this story was about “Pound me in the ass prison”?


    1. I was wondering where the first comment went. I could’ve swore that John’s comment was the second one.

      PRISM looms large, it would appear.

    2. Reason can censor you if they want. They are not doing it in a violent manner. Perhaps you should consider that your comment was not helpful towards a discussion about Sesame Street.

  7. You see kids, sometimes Mommies and Daddies do very bad things to our government. Sometimes they tell bad stories, or maybe tell secrets. And then they have to have a special time out on an island. Can you say Guantanamo? You don’t tell secrets, do you kids?”

  8. My Dad’s In A FEMA Camp.

  9. I don’t feel much empathy for parents who knowingly break the law, even if they disagree with the law. (barring a law that forces you to act immorally) Your kid just needs you at home.

    1. Gee you mean like driving without insurance, to get to your single digit wage job to try to buy new school clothes for those kids that are going to have to visit you in jail because the insurance stop was a probation violation for the 30 day suspended sentence on a missed appearance in court because your dog wasn’t on a leash a few months back and you needed the cash and couldn’t miss the work? How many different ways can the system fuck you again? What is it, three felonies a day?

    2. Ladies and gentlemen, lap83, the world’s first perfect human being.

  10. lol, pretty funny stuff man!

  11. When my grandmother died a few years ago, the funeral home had info/order pamphlets for one of these dealing with death. It was pretty hilariously morbid, with a picture of Elmo on the front. I imagine there’s also one dealing with drug use.

  12. I don’t understand why the author finds it appalling that Sesame Street made an “Online kit” providing families advice and tips on how to cope with a parent in prison. Guess what? If a kid’s Mommy or Daddy is in prison, they’re going to know what prison is! This program is not in anyway encouraging kids to go to prison. It doesn’t condone crime. This is made for the kid who has to suffer at the expense of the parents’ actions. There is not a lot of material that helps kids cope with this situation.

    “And congratulations, America, on making it almost normal to have a parent in prison or jail.” I don’t know if you’re being critical on the prison system and how most are locked up because of the drug laws or you’re critical of the program as horrifying and immoral and inappropriate for kids to watch.

  13. This is so sad. Sesame Street has done a double service here, helping families deal with the absence of a loved one, and highlighting this horrible social problem in the most poignant way possible.

  14. well a big “F YOU” to those moralizing Drug Warriors who preach on and on about the immorality of drug use, and then go on to incarcerate people for using drugs, ruining their lives and causing so much additional harm to the families of drug users. this imprisonment is such a greater evil than the crime it intends to prevent…shame on the prohibitionists. shame on them and let’s stomp out their false arguments. what have we done to this country?

  15. The kit is “an educational outreach initiative for families with children (ages 3 ? 8) who are coping with a parent’s incarceration

    harga besi beton 10 full

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