“Role Model” Needs New Understanding

Family First NZ says that the recent cases of broadcasters, sporting stars and politicians being involved with incidences of alcohol abuse, assaults and family violence means that there is need for a national discussion on what we mean by ‘role model’.

“NZ has often labeled high profile people, tv, media and sporting stars as role models and we have elevated them to a status that they may neither deserve or even want,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “But recent events suggest that they are as fallible as all of us, and it is time to redefine our understanding and teaching of what it means to be a role model.”

“The dictionary definitions of ‘role model’ follow the theme of ‘someone worthy of imitation’, and are people who have the impact on us of wanting to be better people.”

“Our traditional approach to role models has been based on status, position or job – a sporting star, being on television, on radio, an actor/actress, a high public profile etc, but we should be defining role models to our young people based on the strength of character.”

“Qualities such as integrity, humility, care and respect for others, sacrificial service, and living their own lives according to their message are far better ways to define a role model. It is often the unsung heroes who are the real role models in our communities.”

“Simply because a person is seen on television, is well known, or plays a high profile sport is not justification alone to be held up as a role model.”

“We would all struggle to name the members of the 1996 All Blacks, but we have no problem naming the teachers, community leaders and parents who have had a positive impact on our lives and who we now hold in high esteem.

“That’s what we mean by ‘role model’ and that’s the understanding we should be giving our youth.”

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