Teens Follow Their Own Moral Compasses When It Comes to Deciding Ethical Issues

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), January 28, 2002 | Go to article overview

Teens Follow Their Own Moral Compasses When It Comes to Deciding Ethical Issues


Byline: KELLY LEE 20Below News Team / The Register-Guard

AMERICANS have created an elaborate tradition of minimizing effort in order to maximize success.

The shortest, smoothest road is the road of choice, the only road worth taking. Throughout the years, Americans have worked hard so as to take it easy, perfecting such labor-saving devices as the remote control, microwaveable dinners and the "clap-on, clap-off" system of lighting.

We have applied this desire - to squeeze the greatest possible output from the least amount of input - to many aspects of life, including education: When they are expected to learn class material, students - consumed with the quest for quick, simple success - often find cheating easier than studying.

Cheating is a complex, deep-rooted problem that cannot be attributed to a single cause. People cheat because cheating has become accepted; cheating is accepted because people no longer value learning; learning is devalued because people appraise material success over knowledge.

The increase in cheating in schools is the byproduct of the pursuit of easy success.

According to a recent study, almost 75 percent of students have admitted to cheating. Almost 75 percent of students share this philosophy: Never do for yourself what others can do for you.

The practice of cheating to simplify life or to avoid difficulty is embedded in society: People cheat on taxes, in sports, in games and on diets. They lie on resumes and to co-workers, friends and family.

While to many, honesty is just a seven-letter word, dishonesty, when used as an easy means to a tangible end, is money in the bank.

School officials also have caught the cheating bug. In 1999, five school administrators in Alabama were investigated for distributing exam answers to students to improve test scores.

Because cheating is rampant in our society, it has become accepted - even unintentionally encouraged. Dean Willis, a retired athlete, remarked that sports were "like war; you go out there and do whatever it takes to win. The stakes are high, so you bend the rules a little bit."

Willis' description illustrates a common practice in life. We bend the rules when we pad resumes and exaggerate insurance claims, among other things.

Where competition is concerned, we will do whatever it takes to win - even cheat. Because students are willing to bend the rules, it seems that effective cheating, not mental fitness, is the key to survival in schools. …

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Teens Follow Their Own Moral Compasses When It Comes to Deciding Ethical Issues
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