The importance of role models

Recently it was revealed and confirmed that indeed children ‘look-up’ to role models to help motivate them.
Unfortunately, if we look around all we see is that the mainstream press obsessed with celebrity icons.
I wondered like in sports, if an athlete is found to be taking performance enhancing drugs they are then denied any medals they may have covertly achieved. The stigma often sticks and not only do their peers condemn it as cheating but the press also agree with the wrong doing.

However, oddly with pop stars the fact of drug taking or a stint in rehab is communicated by the press differently. The images of over partying, brawls and drunkenness (the latter three adjectives are not mutually exclusive!) are sensationalised. It almost seems that there is nothing else for the public to read about. No awards are taken back.

In addition, no public penalties apart from embarrassment are present? Could it be that these stories and the perpetrators feed each other? Could it be that bad news about people and their habits encourages the shallowness of the commentators and the readers?
Is it a question of jealously – a suggested comeback on, ‘you cannot have your cake and eat it too?’

Ironically, the press are also quick to state that racist behaviour such as that revealed in Celebrity Big Brother is wrong. So they can be driven public opinion? Or is it a case that the press have certain barriers of acceptability they will not cross. Or is it the face or denial of obvious public activity. This stance is neither consistent or honourable.

In London over the last year, 11 teenagers have been attacked and killed. Where is this apparent pessimistic attitude coming from? Much depends on a communities living conditions and investment by councils. Maybe we need to look at some solutions:

  • Reverse the reduction of youth clubs/associations – there needs to be a reminder that are lots of groups that need help, e.g: charities
  • Limited good news on the achievement of youth in the press – lets communicate some good news!
  • Discussing more in school critical world issues raised for example by Amnesty international – We need to communicate the ‘bigger picture’
  • Write to the editors to change their stance on features – Public opinion is better than no reaction from the readers
  • Use the Internet to create a world youth connection network – twinning schools et al.
  • Encourage the company you work for to develop a corporate scheme for youth -This could be an extension of the work-experience that many 15 year old children are encouraged to complete with their schools.

These are just suggested solutions. What we need now is the imagination and motivation of both the press and government
In addition, we need to establish a list of keynote speakers for schools and colleges, who are not celebs. For example, true role models:

  • Self made business persons
  • Representatives of volunteer committees
  • Those that talk about the non-glossy side of life, i.e: death and taxes!

For youth we need to bring home a sense of reality that we are on this Earth for a short period of time – let us all collectively make it a better place rather than shoot or stab each other. I really liked the slogan : ‘Lets make poverty history’. We can make this a reality if we all believe in a common cause of good. Celebrities and their collective merchandise contribute to the materialism that we all leave behind. What we really need to do is enrich our souls through self-less service.

Unfortunately, the powers that drive the press are driven by the very cash that can also be used for good.

Categories: 2008, Anti-Poverty, Corporate Responsibility, Encouraging Youth, Ethics


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