Sesame Street launches tools to help children who experience trauma, from hurricanes to violence at home
By Michael Alison Chandler for The Washington Post
It’s been a hard day on Sesame Street and Big Bird is feeling sad and angry. His friend Alan tells him it’s okay to have “big feelings” when something bad has happened, and he encourages him to calm down by imagining a safe place that he can go to. Soon, Big Bird is feeling better in his dreamlike cozy nest, feeling the warm sun on his feathers and smelling birdseed cookies baking in Granny Bird’s oven.
The video is one of a series being released Friday by the creators of Sesame Street to teach children strategies to cope with traumatic experiences, whether they are unexpected, like a hurricane or a flood, or ongoing.
New federal survey data, also being released Friday, show that one in five children in the United States have experienced at least two types of “adverse childhood experiences,” such as abuse and neglect, witnessing domestic violence, or living with an adult who has a mental illness or substance abuse problem. The rates are higher for teenagers. And researchers say they believe the responses, which are reported by children’s parents, are likely undercounts.
Scientists have documented how such experiences create chronic stress and hormonal imbalances that can have long-term implications for health and learning and emotional development. Researchers are also working to document what tools or advantages help some children overcome these challenges while others struggle throughout their lives.
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