Quick Takes: Breastfeeding in Sesame Street

A Decision for Parents to Make 

The Public Broadcasting Service show Sesame Street is made to educate youngsters on anything from arithmetic to vocabulary. A recent online petition demands that the program teach kids about breastfeeding. While it is important to keep children informed, educating children on topics involving reproductive anatomy should avoid the airwaves and be taught at a parent’s discretion.

Breastfeeding is something all kids eventually learn about, but parents have the right to be the deciders of when, how, and from whom their children learn about it. The Fourteenth Amendment grants parents the fundamental liberty to direct the education and upbringing of their children in whichever way they deem proper, which is especially pressing in matters of sexual education. Mothers can normalize the act of breastfeeding to their children without a TV show’s help, such as by nursing infants at home in the presence of older siblings. Shoving the burden of discussing breastfeeding onto a children’s program is insensitive to parents who wish to wait.

Furthermore, the proponents of the petition compose a loud minority. Parents do not generally call for TV shows to teach their children about other complex issues such as the differences between boys and girls, where babies come from and religion. While these topics may occasionally be discussed on TV, parents trust that Sesame Street will present wholesome educational material to their children. It is the role of parents — and not a TV show — to guide kids through the challenging experience of learning about such controversial topics.

When it comes to educating youngsters, parents ought to let Sesame Street stick to what it knows best — counting and spelling — and leave grown-up topics like breastfeeding to grown-ups.

-Arik Burakovsky
Senior Staff Writer

Episode Can Bring Public Acceptance

A petition entitled “Bring Breastfeeding Back to Sesame Street” recently jumped from about 10,000 signatures last week to 28,000 signatures on Sunday. The creators of this petition wish to “normalize breastfeeding in our community,” and complain that Sesame Street has not promoted breastfeeding since the 80s.  This is an opportunity for Sesame Street to teach children about a natural, healthy and normal part of life in a tasteful way. 

 As an educational program, it is Sesame Street’s goal to explain different aspects of life to children. Breastfeeding is certainly a common, natural part of life. In 2008 the Center for Disease Control conducted a phone survey about breastfeeding, and 74.6 percent of mothers who responded said they had breastfed their child at least once. Sesame Street would be fulfilling its mission by including lessons about breastfeeding in its program.

 Breastfeeding might also have real health benefits as well. Various research and studies from the Department of Health and Human Services have concluded that certain nutrients only found in breast milk are crucial to the proper development of a baby’s immune system. By exposing kids to breastfeeding, Sesame Street has an opportunity to promote something that could be a vital health concern for babies.

An aspect of Sesame Street breastfeeding that may concern parents is the perception of bare breasts being shown on a children’s program.  Sesame Street kept the scene G-rated in past episodes, it is reasonable to assume they would continue to treat the topic with sensitivity today.  Plus, breastfeeding is discreet and natural; there is nothing particularly damaging about witnessing it.  

Promoting breastfeeding on Sesame Street could be beneficial to society, but there are other concerns in the world that are probably more worthy of our focus.

-Chris Roteliuk
Contributing Writer

Cause of Unnecessary Controversy

The same show that has been teaching children how to count for over four decades may be bringing back controversial clips on breastfeeding. This public television show, Sesame Street, is overstepping its boundaries and unnecessarily creating controversy by considering educating toddlers on this topic.

Breastfeeding has been a contentious topic for years, even in relation to much older audiences. Just this past year, a Michigan judge ruled that a woman could not breastfeed her child during court proceedings. Facebook banned photos of women breastfeeding in 2009, citing that such photos violated their decency code. This December, a woman who was nursing her infant at a Target store in Texas was asked by employees to finish breastfeeding in a fitting room, as she was making other customers feel uncomfortable.

The program should take a hint from this public outcry and omit any presentation of breastfeeding. If people don’t want women breastfeeding at the local Target, they are hardly likely to support a Sesame Street segment on the act. Sesame Street currently appears on the television screens of millions of children in over 150 countries, meaning that the episodes must be focused on subjects that are widely supported. The issue is too touchy for Sesame Street to tackle at this time. 

Breastfeeding has been almost completely removed from the public eye, and there is no reason to spark controversy by highlighting it on one of the nation’s most widely viewed children’s shows.

-Revathy Sampath-Kumar
Staff Writer

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