Kids & Clinton crisis

Nick holds children's forum about scandal

NEW YORK — Nickelodeon on Wednesday taped a special edition of “Nick News” to help kids understand the Clinton scandal and to help parents explain the sexual issues to their children.

“Nick News Special Edition: The Clinton Crisis,” hosted by Linda Ellerbee and NBC News’ “Today” co-anchor Katie Couric, will be telecast on Nickelodeon at 9 p.m. Monday.

Ellerbee, Couric and judicial expert Reid Weingarten discussed the various issues surrounding the Clinton crisis with an in-studio group of 10 kids, aged 11-14.

Survey says …

The half-hour special used information taken from a national survey of kids (8-14 years old) and their parents conducted by Nickelodeon last weekend.

“Our mission is that when a story gets so overwhelming that kids can’t get away from it, we want to take it on to make it relevant to them and to give them a voice,” Ellerbee told Daily Variety.

Ellerbee’s Lucky Duck Prods. produces the “Nick News” regular series and the “Nick News Special Editions.”

While the Clinton scandal contains plenty of sexual details, Ellerbee said there are also many nonsexual issues parents can discuss with their kids.

“There are good, solid issues for kids to talk about here: ethics, the politics of impeachment, having a relationship with someone that you’re not married to,” Ellerbee said. “If the kids (in the special) started talking about Linda Tripp, we steered it back to the issues.”

In Nickelodeon’s nationwide telephone survey of 300 kids, 60% — on an unaided basis — identified the Clinton/Lewinsky issue as a major news story. When prompted, 100% of kids said they were aware of it. And 90% of those children surveyed said they had learned about the issue from watching television news programs.

Too many details

Ellerbee said that all 10 kids who participated in the Nick special believe the media was including too many embarrassing details when reporting on the Clinton scandal. Ellerbee said that, for the most part, the kids were forgiving of the president’s actions in the affair. While none of them believed Clinton should be impeached, several said he should resign or be censured.

“Several thought that the public humiliation was enough punishment, and we should move on,” Ellerbee said.

“The amazing thing to me is that when you treat these kids with respect and ask them serious questions, they come back with serious, well-thought-out answers,” she added.

In addition to “Nick News” airing regularly on Nickelodeon, the series is syndicated in 98% of the country.

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