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Video: Sesame Street Takes On the Issue of Parents in Jail

Sesame Street will debut a new character whose dad is in jail to help deal with having a parent in custody


Sesame Street has taken on some pretty big issues in its years on television - from divorce to suicide and poverty - and now it's tackling parents in jail.

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit behind Sesame Street, is debuting a new character whose dad is in jail to help kids talk about having a parent in custody.

Alex will be the first Muppet to have an incarcerated parent. The blue-haired character will join the one in 28 children that the Pew Charitable Trusts estimates has a parent behind bars.

Alex will feature in an online educational kit called "Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration."

In a video targeted at kids aged 3-8, Alex tells a friend, "my Dad is in jail."

Alex's friend explains that people go to jail for breaking "grown-up rules".

"I don't like to talk about it. Most people don't understand," Alex says. "I just miss him so much. I usually don't want people to know about my Dad."

The kit is intended to help kids with an incarcerated parent find support and comfort, and help give families tips about how to talk to their children about incarceration.

"As we started to look at this topic, we realized there were very limited resources," Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, a child education specialist who oversaw the research and execution of this project, told the Toronto Star.

"By not talking about it, you have children growing up with these unanswered questions and later in life it can affect them. We hear from adults to this day and they are living with the consequences."

Alex won't be a regular character on the TV show but the 30-minute documentary will be distributed this week to therapists' offices, schools and prisons.