Monday, 17 March 2008

Like Beckham

A report in the Daily Mail writes that David and Victoria Beckham are the leading icons in a damaging celebrity culture that encourages children to believe they can become rich and successful without working hard at school, teachers warn today. Pupils who dream of becoming pop stars and footballers are neglecting their studies and emulating the worst excesses of their idols' language, behaviour and raunchy clothing, they claim. A survey of more than 300 teachers found that Posh and Becks are the celebrities most widely admired by schoolchildren, although more than 20 others were also named as role models.

These include socialite Paris Hilton, "famous for being famous", and Russell Brand, who confessed to a sex addiction. Sports stars include Frank Lampard, Lewis Hamilton, Dame Kelly Holmes and Andy Murray. The Sugababes, Leona Lewis, Nadine Coyle from Girls Aloud and Lily Allen were among those named as pupils' favourite pop stars.

But teachers warn that celebrity adulation is hampering their efforts to convince children they must try to do well at school. The findings were released as members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers prepare to gather in Torquay next week for their annual conference. Delegates will debate a motion condemning a "cult of celebrity" for "perverting children's aspirations and expectations". It will call on the Government to take action to promote positive role models of ordinary people across the media.

Members who responded to the survey warn that a growing celebrity culture is contributing to underage drinking and anti-social behaviour, because some teen idols are foul-mouthed and yobbish. They also say provocative behaviour by scantily-clad celebrities is increasingly robbing young girls of their innocence.

One teacher, Julie Gilligan, from a primary school in Salford, said: "I have seen and celebrity footballer/pop star language and behaviour in the playground and in school - including disturbingly age-inappropriate 'acts' by young girls in school talent shows."

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