NEW YORK—Big Bird's problems getting into "The Good Birds Club" are at the center of an anti-bullying effort being launched by "Sesame Street."
The venerable PBS show will air a special episode Monday that aims to teach preschoolers how to recognize and combat bullying. The show said Thursday that studies say bullying behavior is seen in children as young as 3, so it's important to get the message across.
In the 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, but he still doesn't pass muster.
Eventually, it dawns on the characters that the club's leader just wants to make Big Bird feel badly. An adult steps in to smooth ruffled feathers and they form a new club.
Bullying isn't necessarily more prevalent than it used to be, but it's getting more attention for the harm that it can cause, said Trudy Ludwig, who wrote children's books on the topic after her 7-year-old girl was mistreated.
"It's important for kids to understand behaviors that are appropriate and inappropriate," Ludwig said. "They can learn when kids are saying mean things and how to stand up in a safe way."
The show emphasizes the importance of bringing a trusted adult in to the situation but also discusses children's fears of being known as tattle-tales. It's tattling if it's done to hurt another person, reporting if it's done to prevent someone else from getting hurt, Ludwig said.
It's important to report the information to stop children from getting hurt, said Rosemarie Truglio, vice president of education at Sesame Workshop, which makes the TV show.
Truglio is host of a panel discussion on bullying that "Sesame Street" is making available to parents on the show's website, which also offers anti-bullying tips for parents. Subsequent episodes of the show on Oct. 18 and 21 encourage children to be proud of who they are, be accepting of others, and build relationships with kind words.