Thursday, December 09, 2004

Why young people learn to cheat

Why young people learn to cheat

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Thursday, December 9, 2004 2:00 AM

There is no doubt in my mind that the number of students who cheat is rising. I dare say that cheating is rampant in our schools.

Why is this so? Because our kids are a reflections of us, of our society. Kids know that cheating is wrong, but they still do it for a number of reasons.

First, because they see dishonesty everywhere. Our children watch us carefully. They know that our leaders and people of every kind in our society cheat. Cops on the take, crooked politicians, government people ripping off the public, etc., etc. The list is as long as your arm. They read the papers, too, watch TV and hear us complain about the cheaters in our midst. They feel the pressure of our society to “do as they do.” After all, it does seem as if everyone is doing it.

Next, there is the pressure of grades and performance. Parents put strong pressure on kids to do well in school and some parents are very strong in their insistence that their kids deliver the marks. Grades are surely important, but not so important that they should lead kids to cheat.

There are kids who are lazy or have study habits who cheat. They steal from those who have worked hard to do well. It’s a mini I version of robbing the banks, but the intent is the same: to get what isn’t yours.

Another reason is to overcome failure. Kids who are failing feel the need to take drastic action to stem the tide of failure, so they cheat in order to look good. They might not be learning, but at least they appear to be better than they are.

Then there is peer pressure. There are even students who laugh at those who don’t cheat. Since so many cheat, they take consolation in the number of cheaters and, therefore, soothe their conscience.

We need to take cheating seriously and treat it as stolen property. How would you feel if your child came home with stolen items? If you value honesty and integrity, you would force him to return the goods and then sanction him severely. You know that if you don’t act, stealing will become a habit that will inevitably lead to a big trouble.

Cheating causes a desensitizing of the conscience. Repeated acts of cheating make it easier and easier to do so with an increasing level of comfort, until the kid can cheat and think nothing of it. Then, stealing from your wallet is also easier.

We need to teach our children to go against the crowd and to walk the lonely road of nonconformity if need be. We must put a high value on honesty at all costs.

First, by being shining examples of honesty ourselves. Then we must not tolerate dishonest acts in the family and move with conviction to sanction cheating and dishonesty in the home.

Now that exposure to the media, peer pressure and the corrupt society that we live in all contribute to contaminating our children, we have to take strong action to counter such influences and protect our own. There needs to be zero tolerance for cheating.


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