Posted by: LucidMystery | December 1, 2008

Pass the Blame: the New Hot Potato

Foreword: This is post is really discursive cuz it’s been a long day but I wanted to at least jot down some thoughts.


So I stumbled across an article on AOL news yesterday that discusses the increasing frequency of high school kids cheating on tests and stealing (link to it is at the bottom.) I have to say, I was a little disturbed by the number of kids who admitted to cheating, and those are just the ones who are being honest!

Ok, granted, I’m know that I personally have cheated at least once in my life. I still have an old diary from when I was 8, and one of my entries says (complete w/bad spelling) “Today I cheaeted but I am going to try too tell.” I have no idea what it was I did, but I was apparently guilty enough to document it in my diary and want to tell Mom. What is scary about the survey in that news article is that even though 64% of the students admitted to cheating, 77% said they had better ethics than most people they know. Something about that seems flawed.

The rest of the article was talking about the reasoning behind why cheating might be on the rise, such as increased pressure to succeed, lower personal values and such. But you know what I don’t understand? Why are we just blaming the kids?

In any given culture, the youngest generation is a product of predecessors–their parents, their society, what they see from the media. While I’m not saying the kids aren’t responsible for their actions, because they certainly are, somehow the idea has been brandished in their heads that they need to succeed at all costs. They need to own what they want, they need to go for it. Don’t worry about what’s fair or right, be the best. Let’s add on top of it that these youngin’s are obviously not thinking ahead on the ramifications of when they go too far. And I mean beyond just the right and wrong factor: so let’s say you pass your math class with flying colors because you cheated, and the next year you end up in an AP calc class…if you couldn’t do a standard math class without cheating, you’re probably screwed now. And cheating may have gotten you through classes, but it won’t get you past the ACT, SAT or later on even the GRE. So somehow, this generation of high schoolers doesn’t think ahead and they don’t accept at least basic principles of right and wrong.

But let’s stop passing the blame around and just think about this for a minute. I feel like, to an extent, this issue goes back to a blog I wrote earlier about the concreteness of right and wrong. How “bad” is it that these kids are cheating? Where did they acquire the motto “the end justifies the means?” It’s an interesting quandry, that’s for sure. Based on the value system I operate from, cheating is never acceptable; but if there is no universal right and wrong, how can we say that what they are doing is wrong? Does that sound weird? It should.

Regardless of how you were raised, you know cheating is wrong. Why do you? And I’m sure that deep down, these kids do too. So what is going on?

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