By Dianne Frazee Walker
If you dare to watch the video featured in an online kit made for child advocacy groups and prison programs for children of incarcerated parents, be prepared with a box of Kleenex handy.
Sesame Street producers have done an extraordinary job of animating a puppet character that perfectly portrays a dejected child who misses his dad because he is in prison.
Alex is a Muppet with a face shaped like a football, who wears a grey hoodie and has spiked blue hair. His eyes are drooped in sadness. “My dad is locked up in jail,” Alex mutters in disgrace. “I miss him so much,” he snuffles with his head to his chin. Alex’s human teacher, Sophie, consoles Alex by telling him she understands because her father was in prison, too, when she was little.
The chances are pretty good there would be at least one person who can relate to having a parent in prison because one in every 18 children have a parent incarcerated.
A retired school teacher explained she realized this social disaster is a sign of the times when she overheard her students comparing what color jumpsuits their daddies wore in prison.
Leave it to the long-running children’s television series Sesame Street to initiate a workshop for children with incarcerated parents. “Little Children, Big Challenges” is an online tool kit intended to help kids with a parent in prison find support and comfort. The videos provide families with strategies and tips for talking to their children about their struggles with having a parent in prison.