Majority of adults believe that youngsters do not have enough role models

THE elevated plinth on which should stand a hero for today’s generation of children is surprisingly vacant, according to a new poll.

Despite the sporting prowess of Jessica Ennis, who won an Olympic Gold medal, or the parenting and footballing skills of David Beckham, the majority of adults believe that youngsters still do not have enough people to look up to.

While a doctor and a teacher remain the epitome of the public’s most recommended role models, a survey of 2,000 adults found that more people were required to inspire the next generation of children.

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The survey also found that 52 per cent believe it is important to give something back to their local community. In total, eight in ten of those polled said they did not believe there were enough good role models for children in their community.

Politicians were the least respected, chosen by 35 per cent, followed by reality TV stars (29 per cent), bankers (22 per cent), footballers (9 per cent) and models (4 per cent). The emergency services, doctors, teachers, charity workers and social workers were the most trusted pro­fessions, the poll found.

It also reveals the Olympics have had an effect on the public’s idea of a good role model.

Jessica Ennis, who won the heptathlon in London, was picked as the top role model of the 2010s (chosen by 26 per cent of those questioned). David Beckham was considered the top role model for the 2000s (picked by 32 per cent) and Sir Richard Branson of the 1990s (chosen by 47 per cent). Bob Geldof and Margaret Thatcher tied for the top role model of the 1980s, with each receiving 23 per cent of votes.

The ultimate role model was former South African president Nelson Mandela, chosen by 19 per cent, followed by the Queen with 18 per cent.

Yesterday, Sue Atkins, the author of Parenting Made Easy: How to Raise Happy Children, said: “Choosing a good role model is about asking what are the values you are putting across to children? Is it a good work ethic, kindness, compassion, or is it an attitude of getting rich quickly and achieving fame by winning The X Factor?

“Or, alternatively, is it the idea that you have to work hard to achieve something?

“However, the most important thing is that parents are the primary role model. If you are telling your kids to be compassionate and then swearing when someone cuts you up on the roundabout, they will remember that. Also you can’t say: ‘Eat your vegetables’ while you are tucking into chips.”

The poll was commissioned by direct-selling firm Amway UK to launch their search to find Britain’s Top Real Role Model. Yesterday, head judge Jo Fairley, co-founder of Green & Blacks, said: “I believe that we have a chance to build on the incredible, positive energy that’s been generated in the UK this year and help to build a better, more supportive community.”