‘Sesame Street’ Launches Anti-Bullying Campaign
Big Bird’s quest to join a group for the “Fine & Feathered Only” is at the cornerstone of a new Sesame Street campaign, which aims to teach preschoolers how to recognize and combat bullying.
On Monday, the classic children’s program will air a special episode inspired by recent studies that say bullying behavior is seen in children as young as three and that girls who regularly watch reality television expect — and accept — more bullying and drama in their lives.
Over the past 12 months, dozens of teens and young adults across America have taken their lives after battling teasing at school. It’s become so serious, pop star Lady Gaga sat down for a meeting with President Obama to brainstorm ways to curtail the national epidemic. Bullying isn’t necessarily more prevalent than it used to be, but it’s getting more attention for the harm that it can cause, says author Trudy Ludwig, who began writing children’s books about bullying after her own seven-year-old daughter became the subject of taunting from classmates.
“It’s important for kids to understand behaviours that are appropriate and inappropriate. They can learn when kids are saying mean things and how to stand up in a safe way.”
In this week’s episode, Big Bird is invited to join the club, but a bully won’t let him in and makes fun of him. Desperate to join, Big Bird asks the fairy Abby to make him smaller and change his yellow feathers to blue — all to no avail. Big Bird and his friend eventually realize that the club’s leader just wants to make Big Bird feel badly. That’s when an adult steps in to smooth ruffled feathers and they form a new club. The show will emphasis the importance of bringing a trusted adult in to a situation as well as children’s fears of being known as “snitches.”
Rosemarie Truglio, Vice-President of Education at Sesame Workshop, is host of a panel discussion on bullying that Sesame Street is making available to parents via the show’s website. The site also offers anti-bullying tips for parents.