'I cry about it sometimes'; Sesame Street skit about incarceration hits home for local kids
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
CREATED Jun. 13, 2013
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Puppets and prison.
It's an odd and, apparently, powerful combination aimed at teaching kids about the problems some families face.
And as it turns out, this new national campaign hits home in southeastern Arizona.
They are warm and fuzzy puppets.
"Oh, did he go on vacation? Is he visiting someone? Yeah, where did he go?" asked two of the puppets.
And they bring a cold, hard lesson.
"I don't want to talk about it, ok?" responded a third.
This week a new segment set up shop down on Sesame Street, titled 'Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration."'
"My dad's in jail," he said.
The online kit offers stories, activities and tips to help kids like Alex and Mary Rose Borbon cope.
"I cry about it sometimes," she said.
At the age of 12, Mary Rose knows her father through letters.
His latest sentence, 10 years for burglary.
What's more her older brother is serving life, for his part in a drive-by shooting.
"I ask myself 'why do they do such things?' Do they not want to see us or do they just do it because they don't want to learn?'" said Mary Rose.
It's a feeling, experts say, that millions of kids feel on a daily basis.
"There's a tremendous amount of loss and fear and anxiety," said Claire Scheuren of Pima Prevention Partnership.
Especially here in Arizona, which boasts the 6th highest incarceration rate in the country and the highest of any western state.
Experts say the kids of those inmates pay a staggering price.
"Sometime they have to step in and be very adult and very mature because they have to help their grandparents or their aunts or their uncles take care of their siblings," said Scheuren.
Luckily, Mary Rose is strong.
She even helped illustrate a childrens book on the topic, and she's glad that those who aren't so resilient are getting a little help.
Mary Rose says she is determined not to follow in her father's or her brother's footsteps.
Meanwhile, the Sesame Street piece is getting some push-back.
Some parents say it's simply too much for most preschoolers.