Between spoonfuls of cereal, a little girl in pajamas looks across the kitchen table and innocently asks her mother some chilling questions: "What if something happens? Should I stay where I am and wait for you?"
She may not understand the implications, but she's talking about terrorism. Now the government wants parents to provide answers.
In a series of new TV, radio and print ads, the Department of Homeland Security is encouraging parents to talk to their children about what to do if disaster strikes. (Related video: Ad 1 | Ad 2 | Ad 3)
The public service ads, unveiled by the Ad Council on Monday, are aimed at parents. Stations are being encouraged to air them only during adult programming. "It is certainly not our goal that these run during Saturday morning cartoons," said Kathy Crosby of the Ad Council.
The new campaign is part of a government effort to get families to plan for emergencies. In one ad, three siblings ask whether they should go to a neighbor's house and how to keep in touch if the phones are out.
An adult voiceover says: "There's no reason not to have a plan in case of a terrorist attack. And some extremely good reasons why you should." It refers parents to www.ready.gov for information.
Marsha Evans, president of the American Red Cross (news - web sites), called it "a powerful way to use children to get to adults." But Ronald Stephens of the National School Safety Center said: "Children have very tender and fragile hearts. You want them to grow up with a feeling of security and safety without feeling that the big, bad boogeyman is going to get them at any moment."