"Addiction is seen as a “grown-up issue” but it impacts children in ways that often aren’t visible."
As you may know, Sesame Street is a preschool educational TV Show. It was first aired on public broadcasting television stations November 10, 1969, and will reach its 50th season in 2019.
Sesame Street is known for bravely going where other kids’ shows don’t. Over the years they have addressed issues like AIDS, autism, and incarceration. I always remember how they talked about Mr. Hooper the shop keeper. When Big Bird asks the grownups on the show where he went, they don’t mince words: They explain that he is gone forever, but it will be okay. This was a brave plot decision for a show that targets preschoolers.
Today they are talking to kids about addiction. Research shows 5.7 million children under the age of 11 in the U.S. live with a parent with a substance use disorder.
Using a bright green puppet called Karli, whose mother is battling an opioid addiction, to the show, Sesame Street hope to help little ones navigate this difficult territory.
Viewers will hear the character's backstory as she explains that her mom has 'a grown-up problem' and is battling addiction, leaving her in foster care.
On the Sesame Street in Communities website they shared this mesage:
When a family member struggles with addiction, the whole family struggles. Children often think it’s their fault; they feel shame, embarrassment, guilt, and loneliness; they may feel invisible. It takes special effort to start important conversations and answer children’s questions. But parents, teachers, caregivers, and other caring adults can comfort children and guide them through difficult moments. With love and support, the family can cope with the challenges of addiction together.
Child therapist Jerry Moe, the national director of the Hazelden Betty Ford Children’s Program, told AP he helped craft the segments and resources. Moe said he was grateful to help out with this topic.
“These boys and girls are the first to get hurt and, unfortunately, the last to get help,” he told the site.
“For them to see Karli and learn that it’s not their fault and this stuff is hard to talk about and it’s OK to have these feelings, that’s important. And that there’s hope.”
While not all parents are in love with the story line it's important to remember that Sesame Street has always been inclusive for all different types of children’s home lives.
This is a crisis and I’m sure it provides comfort and a sense of understanding for children who are dealing with this.