December 02, 2008


Lie, Cheat and Steal: High School Ethics Surveyed

In the past year, 30 percent of U.S. high school students have stolen from a store and 64 percent have cheated on a test, according to a new, large-scale survey suggesting that Americans are too apathetic about ethical standards.

Let the record show that I have never shoplifted or cheated on a test.

Educators reacting to the findings questioned any suggestion that today's young people are less honest than previous generations, but several agreed that intensified pressures are prompting many students to cut corners.

"The competition is greater, the pressures on kids have increased dramatically," said Mel Riddle of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. "They have opportunities their predecessors didn't have (to cheat). The temptation is greater."

Even back in my day, we had graphing calculators that stored information in them. I don't remember any of my friends using that storage to cheat. But regardless, this person is gonna argue that greater competition and opportunity is an excuse for cheating?

Despite such responses, 93 percent of the students said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character, and 77 percent affirmed that "when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know."

Sick. That's the result of parents and their unconditional love and praise. Heaven forbid you hurt little Johnny's self-esteem by telling him he needs to "live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life."

"A lot of people like to blame society's problems on young people, without recognizing that young people aren't making the decisions about what's happening in society," said Dzurinko, 32. "They're very easy to scapegoat."

FAIL. Young people will be making those decisions in ten years, and they have a foundation of cheating and stealing to build on. They're not scapegoats if they admit their immoral behavior. We are totally boned when they become businessmen, educators, and politicians.

"This generation is leading incredibly busy lives -- involved in athletics, clubs, so many with part-time jobs, and -- for seniors -- an incredibly demanding and anxiety-producing college search," he offered as an explanation.

FAIL. Getting into college is stressful, so I'm gonna go out and shoplift, you know, to take the edge off.

I find it incredible that all these principals and administrators are making excuses for these results. Actually, no, I don't find it incredible: I think it's the reason they came up with these results. Adults coddle kids entirely too much these days. They want kids to like them. You know what my philosophy is? Your teenager should hate you...until he's about 25. Then he should start to grok everything you did for him. I am still realizing all the lessons my parents taught me, and I try to inform them when I have finally understood why they did the things they did. And I'm glad they didn't try to "be my friend" when I was in high school. Shoot, my mother doesn't even try to be my friend today; she still lets me know when she thinks I have acted wrong.

"We have to create situations where it's easy for kids to do the right things," he added. "We need to create classrooms where learning takes on more importance than having the right answer."

Weeping Jesus on the cross: FAIL.

There is nothing more important in school than having the right answer. I can't think of any other response to that last quote that doesn't involve cuss words. And you don't create situations for people to do the right thing; you teach young people the right thing to do and then expect them to do it, even when it's hard. That's what morals and values are for!

I don't have any kids yet, much less teenagers. But I have thought about it constantly for the past two years, and I have closely observed the parents around me, looking for what works and what doesn't. And you know how I said I love my husband with my brain instead of my heart? I will love my children the same way. I don't believe in unconditional live; I believe love is earned through thoughts and actions. And I vow that I will never watch my child become a shoplifter and a cheat and then make the kinds of excuses found in this article.

I have a friend who recently said, "Normally when a childless person talks about what she'll do when she has kids, I roll my eyes and think 'just you wait.' But with you, I actually think you will do all these things you say you'll do."

I considered that an enormous compliment.

Posted by Sarah at December 2, 2008 10:25 AM | TrackBack

I saw the figures yesterday at Joanne Jacobs and dreaded to read the details.

I don't think it's just about parenting. Contemporary American culture is about ends, not means. How you get from point A to B - "phase 2" - doesn't matter. Cheating? Lies? "Equalizing" laws? "Everybody" does it, right?

But you never did.

Some may think your nobility is misguided, even pointless. They may mock it. Why?

Have you ever noticed the way people speak of members of strict religious sects, such as the Amish or the Mormons? There is a tone of amusement, of making fun of their unusual beliefs or outlandish customs. But mixed with it there is a hesitant admiration, a grudging respect for those who have chosen to hold themselves to a strict moral standard--those who not only have something to believe, but who act in accord with their beliefs.

- Ron Merrill

I heard that some people rejected Romney in the primaries because he was "too perfect." Pathetic coming from Republicans who pride themselves on being "superior" to Democrats. I am not a Romney supporter - I endorsed no candidate - but rejection of Romney on such grounds still angers me.

Some people cannot stand the good because it reminds them of the evil in themselves.

Kill by laughter ... Learn to use it as a weapon of destruction. Turn it into a sneer ... Don't let anything remain sacred in a man's soul - and his soul won't be sacred to him. Kill reverence and you've killed the hero in man.

- Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead

Posted by: Amritas at December 2, 2008 01:57 PM

Amritas, I'm right there with you - there are efforts on every side to mock the good and discredit it - whether in families or public figures - as "isolated" or "ignorant" or "impractical." And I feel that part of the reason for the success of those efforts is (yet another "i"?) intimidation. Political correctness makes it difficult to discuss values and morals without painting a great big target on your forehead for some variety of "hatemonger" accusation.

Our Founders were very clear, though, that the success of our form of government was (I'd say "completely") dependent on individual virtue and moral character. (Cicero and Natural Law and all... I'm not an expert yet, but I'm loving the learning!) Human beings have moral character inherent in them, and when society denies it, we really, really suffer.

So... while we try to keep virtue from being chased from the public square, I feel that it's ever more critical to have strong families and moral individuals (since it's a lot easier to teach with reinforcement!). Way to teach right & wrong, Sarah! :-)

And I have to say, I like the "Amish or the Mormons" quote in your comment; as one of the latter, it's flattering :-). One of my favorite quotes actually comes from Joseph Smith and ties right into this whole discussion; very lightly paraphrased, it's "teach the people correct principles, and they govern themselves."

Posted by: kannie at December 2, 2008 06:50 PM