What exactly is an adult role model? Well, most teenagers just want and need someone to listen to them and occasionally offer advice. Also they look for someone who can encourage them to pursue their passions, listen to their options, problems, and stories without judging them, provide insight when it is needed or is asked for, and most importantly to remind them that they are not alone.

Christy Lamb, who has worked in education for nearly ten years and is an assistant principal of the online high school for Ohio Connections Academy, has conducted a survey online asking a combination of tenth and twelfth grade students three questions.  “How important is it for a high school student to have a positive role model in his or her life? Do you have a positive role model (other than your parents) in your life? What do you need an adult role model for?”  The vast majority—79% of students —said that it is extremely important for a high school student to have that positive adult role model, and 82% believed they currently had one. As for what purpose that role model served, 73% of students said they wanted an adult role model to say encouraging words to them.

As of October 2012, only 34% of Clinton grades 7-12 reported that parents and other adults model responsible behavior. Search Institute, the organization behind the developmental assets offers these tips for adults:

  • Relationships between adults are models for young people. Make sure you work on keeping your relationships with spouses, friends and family members happy and healthy.
  • Make sure children hear adults solving problems in peaceful ways and not with shouting, angry words, or hitting. If you and your child  witness bullying or intimidation by other adults or children, point it out, talk about it, and think of alternative ways the situation could have been handled.
  • Even if they won’t admit it, parents are the number one influence on adolescent behavior. Be a model hard work, a good attitude, respect, healthy living and courage for your children and others.
  • In your community, don’t be afraid to start a conversation with a young person. Another option is for your school or youth program. You could as a group list questions someone can ask their adult role models, then have students or participants interview their role model and discuss their findings.

Written by Shelby Mehmet, sophomore at Morgan