Antidote Honesty Integrity Accountability

"Why not? Everybody else does."

Dear Dr. Borba,

Last night my twelve-year-old son showed me the A on his math test. I was really proud of him, figuring he had studied so hard. Then I noticed that he'd printed the answers on his hand. When I confronted him, he said that everybody else was doing the same thing and that it's no big deal so I shouldn't get so worked up about it. Well, I happen to think it is a big deal—he cheated! What can I do to turn his attitude around and get this kid to realize cheating is wrong?

—Daniel B., a dad of five from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


"But you said I had to get an A. So what's the big deal?"

"Chill out, would ya? I'm not so stupid that I'm going to get caught."

"It's okay if I rolled the dice again. Kelly wasn't looking."

If you catch your kid cheating, don't let him take the good grade, blame his school, or excuse it as "something everyone else does." Instead, call the teacher and make your kid face up to the consequence.The short-term pain will be worth the long-term benefit to his character.

If you are concerned about your kid's cheating, you are not alone. Data clearly confirm that cheating is on the rise. Since 1969, the percentage of high school students who admitted to cheating on a test increased from 34 percent to 68 percent.The Ethics of American Youth 2002 survey discovered that three of four high school students admitted to cheating on at least one test during the previous year, and 37 percent admitted they would lie to prospective employers in order to get a good job. Plagiarism among college students has become so rampant that many professors have to rely on a specially designed Web site to scan their students' papers to validate originality. But it isn't just the big kids: the news is filled these days with stories of CEOs and political leaders guilty of fraud, insider trading, excess severance pay, and perjury. Is it any wonder that teachers say that cheating is prevalent even in the early grades?

Make no mistake: cheating is a selfish attitude as well as being deceitful, dishonest, and devious.The act goes against the basic grains of integrity and solid character. After all, cheaters aren't concerned about whether their conduct was fair or how it affected others. Usually their biggest fret is worrying about whether they will get caught. This attitude is all about cutting corners and taking the easy way out. The good news is that parents do play a significant role in nurturing the virtues of honesty, integrity, and accountability in their kids. Let's just make sure we use that role wisely so our kids do turn out right and this epidemic of cheating is stopped.

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