American kids during the Cold War had experiences that kids before and after would not and did not have. They watched the adults around them react to the perceived threat to America and its way of life by the Soviets and the Cold War. Kids during this time would learn to fear this threat and its impact on their future, the threat of nuclear weapons had increased after Soviet Russia acquired them giving more reasons to fear for their future.
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The Government realized that they needed to teach kids, parents, and educators how to prepare for the event of nuclear war, and in turn prepare the kids to protect the future.
The Federal Civil Defense Administration made a short film designed to help teach kids how to protect themselves from and atomic bomb attack. Duck and Cover was their answer, it was produced in January 1952 by Archer Productions, an Advertising Firm.
This was the introduction of Bert the Turtle to kids across the nation and their change in mentality that would last a life time and impact future generations.
Duck and cover starts with Bert walking upright past a tree where his nemesis a monkey appears with a stick of dynamite and tries to blow Bert up. Bert protects himself by practicing Duck and Cover, he ducks down to the ground and covers himself with his shell. It goes on to show footage films of school children in Queens, New York, the kids were told how to protect themselves and shown the clip of Bert. Duck and Cover was designed for school children, as seen by its main character, Burt the Turtle and a song that is easy for them to sing and follow along with, the song taught children to act as Bert did to protect themselves.
Part of what the film stressed to kids is to listen to authority figures that they could keep them safe and would know what to do. The teacher in the film is calm as she explains and answers questions lending to the thought the adults would know what to do, and that parents would have a safe place for them at home that was well prepared. The film to put and emphasis on finding an adult if you were along when the bomb hit or siren went off, and that if older children were around then they would be in charge. The film shows a child hiding against a wall until a Civil Defense work comes to get him, when he dusts himself off instead of following the worker the narrator reprimands him for not following the adult to safety, farther pushing the point that adult and old children would be how they could be safe and that they must obey them.
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