Celebrity role models can be a lesson in the making

Published 1:31 pm Tuesday, March 10, 2009

There was a time when I was a child that I looked up to the many celebrities paraded in front of me on magazines and television.

The idea of a Barbie doll personified is appealing to any little girl. And at some period during my childhood, Whitney Houston was my Barbie-esque idol.

A few years later something happened to Whitney, she happened to marry the wrong guy and she became addicted to a certain illicit drug. Needless to say, my mom stopped purchasing Whitney Houston stuff and I eventually forgot about the pop star.

It was probably best my mom saw the signs and reacted the way she did because I too could have fallen to the wayside.

As if “celebritydom” is disturbing enough, when you factor in that children and teens idolize many entertainers it can be simply bone chilling.

Perhaps the most worrisome story at hand right now is that of singers Chris Brown and Rihanna.

In case you’re out of the loop, the two were seemingly a perfect, wholesome couple, that was until last month when a violent domestic incident transpired between the two, leaving Rihanna injured.

While Brown is facing criminal charges, the two after a few weeks of being apart are “reportedly” back together. Seemingly, all is forgiven.

While no one can account for Rihanna’s reasoning behind taking her abusive boyfriend back (nor is it a basis to judge her as a responsible party in the attack), it makes me wonder what kind of message it sends to her young fan base.

Many survivors of domestic violence go back to their abusive partners time and time again before leaving for good. Those that do survive will ultimately tell you that they are lucky to get out alive.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) estimates 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by their partners each year in the United States.

Furthermore, one in every four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

In North Carolina alone, according to NCADV, in each of the last three years there were more than 70 incidences of domestic violence homicides.

In five of the six years from 1997 to 2002, North Carolina has been in the top ten states in homicide rates for females murdered by males.

While we can’t gauge what will happen to each female in her lifetime, we can educate young women (and men) on the dangers of domestic abuse and the actions that can be taken to protect themselves.

So instead of this high profile case being used to mill rumors to nosh on in the celebrity world, let it be a lesson and a point for discussion between young people and their parents.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: amanda.vanderbroek@r-cnews.com or call (252) 332-7209.