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September 2003
Soap Slackers
Written by Selina Jobbins, age 19
East Enders
The cast of East Enders
Selina Jobbins asks what role models teenagers have. She thinks programmes like East Enders and Coronation Street portray teenagers who are bad role models - and would like to see more positive characters.
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TV soap ‘Eastenders’ is one of the most teenage orientated programmes at prime time, whilst ‘Coronation Street’ - winner of the recent Soap Awards for number of viewers has vowed to become more so.

With an increasing teenage cast comes an increasingly teenage audience that are attracted to it.

Non of the teenage casts in these soaps however are particularly encouraging towards setting an example for or providing positive role models for teenage audiences.

In ‘Eastenders’ alone there’s there is ‘Martin’ and ‘Asif’ who are currently drug growing, as well as ‘Zoe’ and ‘Kelly’ with a history of prostitution and a pregnant ‘Vicky‘.

‘Martin’ is not the first soap teenager to serve a prison sentence, as ‘Vicky’ is not the first to become a pregnant.

In 'Coronation Street', ‘Ade’ was sent to prison around the same time whilst ‘Sarah Lou’ became pregnant at just 13.

As well as these ‘Maria’ has recently had an abortion, newcomer ‘Maz’ is also drug growing and 16 year old ‘Katie’ is taking part in a sexual relationship with 34 year old Martin!!

And I think that covers the whole of the teenage cast of the Street....lets not forget car stealing Tyrone!

As far as higher education is concerned there is a lack of educational encouragement at a basic standard, with Corrie’s ‘Candice’ deciding to pack school in before even taking her GCSE’s.

‘Todd’ stupidly failed to go through with his A-levels, settling for a job at ‘Dev‘s’ corner shop instead, making ‘Eastender’s’ ‘Sonia’ one of the only teenage soap characters to achieve A levels.

‘Sonia’ the exceptional role model is currently succeeding in a bright future as a nurse, however there is no forgetting she too became pregnant at 13 and had to give up the baby in order to do so.

There is no ‘Walford University’ nor ‘Wetherfield College‘. Most of the teenage characters seem to be content in working in dead end job’s that include clothes stalls, car garages, corner shop‘s and even fruit stalls!!.

There needs to be more encouraging character’s like ‘Sonia’ (without the background) and ‘Todd’s’ that do actually go off to University.

Taking all of these ‘soap slackers‘, that make up the majority of teenage casts into account, I often wonder where teenagers find their encouragement to succeed? It certainly isn’t television with it's complete lack of role models!

By Selina, 19.
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