close ad

What Teens Can Learn from Celebrity Scandals

Celebrity screwups can send the wrong message to tweens and teens. It's up to parents to turn celeb transgressions into teachable moments and help kids learn the true meaning of character.
fallen teen idols
Enlarge Image
Sean McCabe

Whether they're athletes, movie stars, or musicians, big names keep pushing the boundaries of bad behavior with sex, drugs, and violence. And our kids have a front-row seat, no less mesmerized than the rest of us. Sure, they're savvy -- they know about the difference between image and reality -- but they're still kids at heart, desperately seeking role models and ground rules to live by. So what's a teen to think when, often as not, celebs who cross the line are granted Survivor-like immunity, their fame not merely intact but enhanced?

"Every time kids see yesterday's superstar become today's liar, they tend to get more cynical," says Frank Farley, PhD, a psychologist and adolescent specialist at Temple University in Philadelphia. That means parents can't sit on the sidelines. There are valuable lessons to be salvaged from even the tawdriest celeb dramas -- teach your children well, and they'll be able to draw on them for a lifetime.