It’s all the rage and even comes with bragging rights. Cheating, that is. As one webber proclaims, “I have cheated on tests, homework, projects, and other assignments all through my scholastic career . . . It’s something I take pride in.” This site, like some others, asks readers to forward their cheating tricks for posting. No wonder surveys find that 75% of students—many shamelessly–confess to cheating and/or copying text at least once. How about your child? And what example have you been setting along the way? To start, which of these have you ever done for your child?
_____ Written a paper.
_____ Revised a paper to the point of rewriting it.
_____ Done an entire assignment.
_____ Completed a homework assignment.
_____ Completed or done a project.
What message is sent every time we bail out our kids, fixing this and that, even taking over? First lesson taught: occasionally cheating the system is okay. Second lesson: you can’t make it on your own, thus short-changing their self-esteem. So, why keep doing it? Probably because we want our kids to be stress-free, successful–and love us back. And sometimes schoolwork competes with activities like sports, or you’re tired of homework battles, so you step to keep the peace. But, face it: whether it’s cards, sports, marriage, taxes, projects, or homework, once a trust is broken, it doesn’t repair well. Nothing’s worth that—certainly not good but unearned grades.
Cheating is risky business with more at stake than just a zero. Does your child really think it’s okay to deceive, that everyone does it, so why not? Find out by asking if she’s ever . . .
_____ Brought a “cheat sheet” to class?
_____ Copied from a neighbor’s test?
_____ Gotten questions from a student who’d already taken the test?
_____ Copied information from a book cover/flap for a book report?
_____ Copied material from a reference book or encyclopedia?
_____ Copied from an Internet source?
_____ Copied a friend’s homework?
_____ Had a fellow student do an assignment for her?
Any surprises? When students are asked such questions, hands go up—some even proudly. Cheat sheets are hidden under tests, notebooks, even over-sized band-aids and watches, with notes written on skirt-covered thighs and between fingers. They’re also typed in font size 6 and stuffed up sleeves and into eyeglass cases and calculator lids. Reasons include: “I forgot to study;” “If I fail, I’m off the team;” and, “I don’t want to disappoint my parents.” Disappointed yet? And we haven’t even gotten to the high-tech possibilities!
In this text-messaging, chat room age, camera phones, PDA’s, and MP3 players all serve cheaters well. Then there are websites touting classroom-tested cheating tricks, such as www.cheathouse.com and www.cheater.com. Others sell essays and reports for a few bucks, such as www.termpapers-on-file.com and www.ezwrite.com. Even fax machines are in on it. Can you think of a faster way for me to get your homework to copy?
But we teachers aren’t so trusting anymore. Kids are now often required to do most written work in class, and we walk the room during tests. We’re double-checking everything, while also teaching lessons on integrity, imposing honor codes, and enlisting parental support. Moreover, we have some high-tech tricks of our own that you should know about, too. Wondering if those are actually your child’s words? Just type the suspicious phrase into Google, and, if copied, you’ll find the source. Or turn to such sites as, www.turnitin.com, www.plagiarism.com, and www.softwaresecure.com. But the best advice ever is to model the behavior you want to see in your child. Be a guide; don’t take over. Success must be earned; self-esteem derives from hard work and achievement.