Are you teaching your children to lie if you tell them to say, "My mommy (or daddy) can't come to the phone right now," when their parents aren't home?
No, points out one astute 7-year-old: "If they're not home, they can't come to the phone!"
How to deal with strangers on the phone is the topic of just one of 105 public-service announcements being made by Fox Children's Network to help youngsters cope with contemporary issues. The 30- and 60-second spots run between shows during weekdays as well as Saturday mornings.
Raven Symone ("The Cosby Show") is among young actors participatingin the announcements, many of which are done music-video style. Categories include messages of racial tolerance, individuality and self-esteem; motivational spots, which deal with a variety of emotional issues such as families, divorce, step-families and fatherhood; and safety spots by John Walsh, whose 6-year-old son Adam was abducted from a mall more than a decade ago and later found murdered.
Saturday marks the premiere of the Walsh safety spots, which open with a look at what Walsh terms "good touch and bad touch."
"Seventy percent of crimes against children are done by trusted authority figures," he says. "It could be a family friend, a Boy Scout leader, a minister. We tell kids that if they are a victim of sexual abuse, tell someone right away and get some help. It's important that they know that they have the power to say, 'No.' It's a very important message in these tough times. This is not 'Father Knows Best' anymore; it's 1990s America. Knowledge is power and is truly important."
Walsh will look at gun safety, tell kids to never answer the door unless it is an emergency and advise youngsters to never "meet up" or go to a parking lot alone. (It is believed that Walsh's young son was abducted when he became separated from his mother in a store and went to the parking lot to look for her.) Since that time in 1981, Walsh has worked for children's rights and founded the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"In addition to child safety, we're going to expand into dealing with nutrition and social values," says Fox programming vice president Karen Barnes. "We're going to continue to run all the PSAs we've done since the kids' network began in 1991. We just keep increasing the number, since we've tried to stay away from any issues that are anything but perennial."
\o7 The Fox Children's Network public service announcements for youngsters air twice Monday through Friday between 4 and 5:30 p.m. and five times between 7 a.m. and noon on Saturday on Fox. The John Walsh safety spot warning against pedophiles airs Saturday after "Tiny Toons" at approximately 9:28 a.m. For ages 2 to 12.\f7
MORE FAMILY SHOWS
American Indian actor Graham Greene narrates the animated American Heroes & Legends "Squanto and the First Thanksgiving" (Sunday 7:30-8 a.m. Showtime) about a former slave who teaches the Pilgrims how to survive at Plymouth. \o7 For ages 2 to 8.\f7
Another experiment goes haywire in the premiere of Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (Sunday 7-8:30 p.m. Disney), which stars Rick Moranis. \o7 For ages 4 and up.\f7
Felicity contends with the affections of two suitors and ends up with a marriage proposal on Avonlea (Monday 8-9 p.m. Disney), which has won Parent's Choice and Action for Children's Television awards. \o7 For ages 8 and up.\f7
Glen Campbell, Christopher Plummer, Sandy Duncan and Charles Nelson Reilly lend their voices to Rock-a-Doodle (Wednesday 8-9:15 p.m. Disney), an animated film about a boy who has a vivid dream that takes him on a colorful adventure. \o7 For ages 2 to 12.\f7