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Sesame Street Gives Divorce Another TryThe beloved Sesame Street has recently been through to some rough times. From Big Bird’s political fame due to Mitt Romney’s exclamation of love for the big yellow bird to the sex scandal involving long-time Elmo puppeteer, Kevin Clash, the kids’ program has had an up and down couple months.  But some news about the TV’s shows actual programming. Sesame Street has long served as an education tool for kids, usually in benign areas of childhood, like sharing, caring, and things of that nature. But every now and then, they tackle a more serious issue.
The First Go Round

In 1992, a census report stated 40 percent of children would soon be living in a divorced family. Sesame Street was determined to tackle this tough and relatively new issue. With thorough  research, and a well-crafted segment, Sesame Street cast the downtrodden Snuffleupagus in the role of a child going through divorce.  Snuffleupagus goes to explain to his pal, Big Bird, that his dad is moving out of his family’s cave to a cave across town, due to something called divorce. In the test screening, which occured weeks before it was to air, the segment proved a disaster. With kids crying saying they didn’t know where Snuffleupagas was going to live and that his parents didn’t love him, Sesame Street was forced to pull the segment and hasn’t touched the topic since. Until now.

Addressing Divorce Today

Much has changed since 1992, from our understanding more about children and divorce, as well as media and technology presenting and targeting these problems. Sesame Street is going to take another try at addressing divorce with children. A relatively new pink female Muppet named Abbey, who debut in 2006, is part of a 13 minute online segment, which is part of a larger overarching theme called “Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce.” This time around it will only be airing as a web episode online and has targeted just those children who are from divorced or divorcing households. The response has been overwhelmingly better.

Maybe it was using Snuffleupagus as the main character; maybe it was the airing of the episode to national audiences in which many children were not part of a divorced household. It could also be that, over 20 years later, we may have a better understanding of how to handle and present this material to kids.

Many households with children experience divorce every year. For all the research there is, however,  it comes down to a case by case situation. Every family is different and every child reacts uniquely to their circumstances and surroundings. Whether it’s a long, dragged out court battle, or a simple, quick online divorce, when kids are involved they will be affected. It starts in the homes with the parents, educating children can be the difference between limiting future problems or causing issues that will have to be addressed as they grow into adults.

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