Lorenzo Walker Tech HS & Institute of Tech

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Ethical Cheating - An Oxymoron

The Josephson Institute of Ethics recently released a summary of data from their Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth. The survey results of 36,122 U.S. high school students revealed that virtually all believe in the importance of character and truth and that, despite recent highly publicized business scandals, most believe ethics is important in the workplace. Most students also maintain a strong self image of their own character and ethics.

There are more results, though, that offer a real “disconnect” with the basic understanding of ethical behavior:
· 60% cheated on a test at school,
· 82% have lied to a parent and 62% have lied to a teacher about something significant
· 33% have copied a document from the Internet
· 28% stole something from a store, and
· 23% stole something from a parent or relative.

Although character education is a “soft skill” taught in most schools, it is a bit worrisome that teens would readily admit to unethical behavior and simultaneously acknowledge not only its importance, but their own positive characteristics. Is this a new cynicism? Does it reflect merely an immaturity or is it a reflection of the “new reality”? The contradiction is puzzling. It also reminds all of us as parents and teachers to continually respect, model and coach the “right thing.”

photo from Sidelong at Flickr


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