Monday, May 30, 2005

On The Mark -- It's Not Even Wrong If You Get Caught

It’s only wrong if you get caught. That was always a feeble rationalization for doing something illegal. Now, with some parents in the Los Angeles area, it’s gotten even worse. For them, it’s not even wrong if you get caught.

Recently, several students at a middle school were suspended for a day, along with other less serious punishments, for cheating on a homework assignment. The teachers caught on when they noticed that several of the students’ answers were exactly the same. After confronting them, the school administration gave out the suspensions, then took it one step further by posting a message on the school signboard that cheating was unacceptable.

One would think that the parents of these cheating kids would back the punishment, maybe even extend it at their homes by grounding them or something like that. Yet when interviewed by the L.A. Times (which was reporting on the parents’ protests of excessive punishment), several of these parents (anonymously) came to the defense of their kids and said it wasn’t that big of a deal and that everyone cheats, “my kid just happen to get caught.” They said the school overreacted because it was only a homework assignment, not an exam.

The reason these kids cheated is obvious, because they watch their parents do the same thing. For example, I stopped counting the times I’ve seen adults race through red lights. It’s not because they want to save a couple minutes (which is the rationale they use), it’s because they’re confident they won’t get caught.

I hope some of these kids learned a lesson at a point in their lives when the repercussions are less severe than they will be later in life. They’re certainly not learning at home.


deadpanann said...

This makes no sense to me. The schools are expected to instill in these children the values and skills it takes to succeed as an adult, but the parents won't even back them up on something as simple as punishing cheating. What do they think is going to happen a few years down the road when a college professor catches them? It will be more serious than a day's suspension. When I was a kid my parents used to not only back up my teachers (even the ones they didn't personally like) but getting in trouble at school also meant getting in trouble at home. This sent a strong message that I was expected to use acceptable behavior and make the right decision regardless of the situation, and regardless of whether I agreed with the rules/standards.

Chandira said...

I can understand why this happens, and the parent's attitudes. There is so much pressure put on kids to perform, get good grades, compete for colleges, etc. I think people get so scared, stressed, and desparate about that stuff that they'd do pretty much anything, and lose track of it being wrong.

Greg said...

These days parents hardly ever back up the students. Where I taught until recently, kids cheated all the time, and we hardly ever saw the parents, much less had them on our side. Part of the problem is that many parents want to be friends with their kids because, so they go along with anything the kids do. I'm not saying that parents should always side with teachers, but they hardly ever do anymore, because "My Johnny would never do that! He's an angel!" It's frustrating.