“Sesame Street” Helping Parents Teach Kids About Terrorism

Subtitle: Elmo Meets Michael Chertoff or “The Muppets Take Manhattan… Post 9/11”

I wish I were kidding.

For decades parents have turned to those fun-loving furry friends on “Sesame Street” when they needed help teaching their kids how to spell, tie their shoes, and count to 10 in Spanish. But now Elmo, Grover, Big Bird, Zoe, Oscar the Grouch and crew are getting serious about a grown up topic most adults struggle to deal with—terrorism and other potential deadly catastrophes.

So how exactly does a parent explain to a 3-year-old why it’s important to prepare for a terrorist attack?

Don’t have a clue? Then, leave the teaching to those lovable pals on the street where sunny days sweep the clouds away:

“An emergency is something that happens that you do not expect,” warns a helmet-wearing Grover at the beginning of a new DVD created in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security.

The new video and information package is aimed at young children and is precisely the teaching tool some parents say they were looking for to get pointers on how they should prepare their children in case of a major emergency. At least that’s what the folks at “Sesame Street” maintain when asked why they decided to team up with the federal government to indoctrinate America’s littlest citizens on the potential for wide spread disasters.

It may seem like an unlikely pairing, but then again, can you really think of any one else your preschooler would listen to more (regarding any subject) than his pals on “Sesame Street?”

Some parents have scoffed at the idea of blue and red monsters educating kids that something unexpected can happen anywhere and anytime, but childcare experts, who have seen the new DVD called “Let’s Get Ready,” embrace it.

The video features the friendly faces of the Muppets using their usual familiar kid-friendly approach to sing about the importance of knowing your first and last name. The video also teaches kids how to create an emergency kit and the importance of knowing your neighbors or others who can help you in case of an emergency.

Part of the information package that comes with the DVD focuses on techniques parents can employ to help their children memorize their address and phone number so someone knows how to get a hold of them in case they are separated. It also provides tips on how to develop a family emergency plan.

If nothing else the DVD is something parents can use to stimulate conversation with their children about emergencies. Of course, that’s not the way all parents view the DVD. Some say the new “Sesame Street” video fans the flames of an already paranoid society and promotes distrust and fear.

What camp are you in?

Related Articles:

Elmo Lends A Hand To Help Military Families

Sesame Street Gets A Shot Of Girl Power

Pop Culture Potpourri: Babies, Billionaires and Big Names on “Sesame Street”

“Sesame Street” In The Middle East

The Story Behind T.M.X. Elmo

Vacationing with Elmo

Elmo-Mania Strikes Again

Stars Jump On The Reading Bandwagon

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.