The Josephson Institute of Ethics
in the United States surveyed 43,000 high school students in October, and found
frequent cheating, stealing, and lying in the past year.
Cheating in school is widespread,
the study says, with more than half of students admitting to cheating on a test
during the past year, one-third of more than twice. One in three students
admitted to using the Internet as a source for plagiarizing assignments.
Students also ‘fessed up to
committing acts of theft last year, with 21 per cent saying they stole from a
parent or other relative, 18 per cent from a friend.
Lying was also frequently cited,
with 48 per cent of boys and 35 per cent of girls admitting that they sometimes
lie to save money. Eight in 10 students also confessed to lying to a parent
about something significant.
Nevertheless, 89 per cent of
students surveyed said that being a good person is more important than being
rich, and 92 per cent said they believe that their parents want them to do the
Perhaps not surprisingly, some
findings might even be understated — some of the students might be lying on the
study itself, says Michael Josephson, president of the institute. “In
self-reporting, there’s a natural tendency to understate anything that could be
embarrassing or negative. Roughly 25 per cent of students confessed they lied
on at least one or two survey questions.”
Josephson noted that the new survey
results are slightly better than in the group’s last survey, in 2008, though it
appears some students act in ways contradictory to their beliefs. Still, 92% of
students said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character.
“We’ve become a culture of liars,
and that’s the sad part of it,” says Josephson.