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July 17, 2004

Parents should encourage their youngsters to view the Summer Olympic games and they should take the initiative during the Olympic broadcast to open up a dialogue to discuss their children's dreams and goals for the future, according to a child psychologist.

"Why is it so important for young people to be exposed to the feats of Olympic champions? Because of an absence of positive role models in our society, many young people grow up in the U.S. without the sense of the importance of hard work and discipline to reach one's goals." This according to psychologist Robert R. Butterworth, Ph.D. who adds:

"Many teens are not exposed to anyone in their environment who has the perseverance to effectively overcome any internal obstacles that they may face in reaching their dreams. Thus it is not surprising that many young people drop out or give up prematurely when faced with frustration or self doubt when working toward their own goals."

Butterworth feels that many popular "role models" that have been chosen by young people give them a distorted view of reality. "Many of the heroes that have been adopted by young people give them a false view of achievement and success," Butterworth said.

"Youth's role models in many cases are rock musicians and movie and TV stars who for the most part convey the message that one achieves greatness in life almost instantaneously with the importance of luck or connections over the merits of perseverance and hard work.

"Olympic athletes are important to correct this misconception not just by their winning but on the importance of the task of getting there," according to Butterworth.

He added, "Viewing the Summer Olympic Games and being exposed to the triumphs of the Olympic athletes conveys a powerful message to young people -- hard work equals achievement.

"The Olympics show athletes competing and working hard towards a common goal and overcoming great odds in order to become winners. When teenagers are exposed to these positive Olympic role models, it gives young people hope that they too can overcome obstacles in their own lives. These athletes show them by their deeds, not to give up when they are faced with frustration and doubt."

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