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School Tips for Parents: Why Kids Cheat

Updated on October 26, 2014

Students reveal methods of cheating:

For more on children and cheating:

The amount of cheating that happens in our schools today is astounding. A whopping 97% of high school students, according to researchers, admit to questionable academic behaviors, and 50% admitted to plagiarism. The statistics are alarming, and the old fashioned methods of cheating have been replaced with high tech methods. Students copy information from websites or buy essays from term paper mills. It is incredibly easy for kids to cheat.

Cheating is no longer curtailed to students known for bad behavior, it happens across the whole student body from kids who are failing to the highest academic achievers. Cheating is especially rampant among the higher academic level students because competition is so great. To get into prestigious schools, students need great grades, and they'll do what they have to to receive those top grades.

Why kids cheat:

Many students don't see cheating as a problem and view it as an acceptable behavior because cheating is so widespread. Copying a classmate's homework is no big deal, so why would sharing answers on a test be wrong? Students think if everyone else does it, why shouldn't I?

Some students cheat because they're just lazy and feel unprepared. Cheating offers a quick an easy solution to the task of getting a good grade. Instead of taking time to study for a test or doing the homework, it's just easier to copy someone else's work.

Pressure plays a big role in why many students cheat. Students feel pressure from themselves or their parents to get good grades. Other times, they may be pressured from friends. A classmate asks to cheat off a friend's assignment, and the friend feels compelled to help the classmate.

A primary reason why kids cheat is because they can get away with it. A student may see classmates cheating without getting caught, and the student thinks s/he can do it too. It is difficult for teachers to catch students in the act of cheating, and it can become very difficult when the teacher confronts the student about cheating because some parents will defend their child no matter what. Teachers try to prevent cheating, but ultimately, the child is responsible for their own actions.

Services have been developed to help teachers catch students who plagiarize essays, but usually these services cost the school districts money to put in place, and many school districts just don't have that money. It can be a difficult task to prove a student has plagiarized.

Preventing your child from cheating:

Take time to talk to children. Discuss a time when you failed or faced adversity. If a child fears failure, s/he will more likely give in to the temptation of cheating. If you talk with your child and help them understand that failure sometimes happens and that failure can be a learning experience, they may not feel so compelled to cheat in order to receive a good grade.

In every day life of watching tv and reading books, search for opportunities to emphasize your ideals about being honest and not cheating. Whether you're watching the news, or a movie, or a commercial, sometimes media moments offer a good way to start a conversation about academic honesty. Don't hesitate about having an open discussion with your kids and address consequences of cheating.

Finally, character and values are built on a day-to-day basis through discipline and habit. Be a role model and find ways to encourage the development of values you want your child to have. Instill a strong work ethic in your child, and show your child that there is much to be gained if a person is willing to work. Stress that hard work pays off not only in a financial sense, but also in a feeling of satisfaction for a job well done. You don't need to make a top grade to be a successful, happy person.

Cheating has always happened, but it has reached epidemic proportions. Now, more than ever, adults need to encourage children to be honest and work hard, and in the end, all of us gain.


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