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"Can celebrities be role models for young people?"
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"Can celebrities be role models for young people?"

Amanda McClintockYoung people deserve positive role models, yet too many modern-day celebrities offer bad examples, writes 18-year-old Amanda McClintock from Queensland,  Australia.

For as long as there have been humans on this Earth there have been the people who we look up to as our heroes and celebrities.

In Greek mythology Hercules was the celebrity of the day. In many countries the kings and queens or people of power gained respect and their subjects longed to be just like them.

In more recent times, movie stars and musicians have become the idols in our lives. Celebrities like Paris Hilton and the Kardashian sisters are but a few examples.

This idolisation of celebrities can be positive because it gives young people someone to look up to. However, it is not all beneficial.

The problem we face with having celebrities as role models is that if they start endorsing issues which are not positive, it can very easily lead us astray.

Take for example Charlie Sheen. He has been the highest paid TV actor for years now, earning $2 million per episode of Two and a Half Men, and he has gone completely off the rails.

Smoking, endorsing drugs and alcohol and being susceptible to drunken rages have given him even more attention and made him even more famous than he was 12 months ago.

Is this the sort of example we want to give to the youth of today? That by acting out and behaving badly we can get more attention and become famous? No wonder young people can be so out of control these days.

With role models like Britney Spears, who only a few years ago had an emotional breakdown, and Lindsay Lohan, who has been in and out of jail and rehab, what can we expect of the youth?

And the worst part is that these people are still famous and constantly talked about. It is almost as though we are condoning this sort of behaviour and lifestyle as being acceptable.

It doesn’t help that these celebrities get lesser punishments than “regular” people. How many people would avoid jail after being caught with illicit drugs or escape punishment for domestic abuse, like some recent celebrities. The answer is very, VERY few. It appears that celebrity status can exempt you from almost anything that would be punishable or illegal for any other human being.

So what can we do to try and make sure that teens are getting positive role models in their lives? It seems that we need to have boundaries for what is considered to be acceptable in modern society. Perhaps this needs to come from the media, or perhaps it needs to come from an understanding by youth that following celebrities is just not a sensible move.

Whatever the answer, we as individuals can make a choice not to engage in the promotion of these celebrities by not buying into the gossip and giving them more attention than they deserve.

Make a choice and take a stand, after all, we have the power to control our world. The power is in the choices that we make every day. So make them mean something and for generations to come. We may be young but that doesn’t mean we have any less to offer.

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Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. All articles are published in a spirit of improving dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

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