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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Teens choose role models

Forget high-powered athletes. Ignore the glitzy celebrities. High-paid entertainers don’t cut it either. So who are the primary role models teenagers look to most?

A January American Bible Society survey shows that 67.7 percent of 12- to 18-year-olds believe parents are the most important role models in today’s society. Teens said the most important qualities they look for include biblical principals such as honesty, integrity, loyalty and truthfulness. The survey discovered that teens look for role models and heroes within their reach, with whom they have regular interaction and to whom they have access.

After parents, 40.6 percent mentioned teachers and coaches followed by siblings (40.4 percent). Only 18.7 percent of teens said religious leaders were role models. A high number of teens (84.8 percent) selected Jesus as the embodiment of a biblical role model.

In open-ended questioning, the most frequently cited role models among religious leaders that teens selected were “my priest,” “my pastor” or “Father Tom,” followed by Jesus, the pope, God, Muhammed and Billy Graham.

More than 1,100 teenagers participated in the survey conducted by Weekly Reader Research for the Bible society. The study was representative of the U.S. population of teens in terms of gender and ethnicity.


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