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Student Cheaters Ultimately Cheat Only Themselves

November 02, 2002

A report by the Josephson Institute of Ethics shows a continuing rise in student cheating, as well as stealing and lying. From 1992 to 2002, according to the report, the percentage of high school students who admitted they cheated on an exam in the past year increased from 61% to 74%. Two high school students shared their observations on student cheating with MARY REESE BOYKIN.

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Chris Dogra

Sophomore, Fairfax High School, Los Angeles

Many students have lots of distractions at home -- the telephone, television, computers -- that interfere with doing homework or preparing for tests. Because they are unprepared, they look at a friend's paper when the teacher is not watching.

I am an A student. I budget my time, even though I have basketball practice and don't arrive home from my bus ride until 6 p.m. But I have had friends tell me that they didn't study or didn't know how to do the work or didn't try. They anticipate that the kid next to them studied, and they look at that student's paper. I have on occasion knowingly let someone copy from my paper. It was a smart kid who went blank on a question. I know he studied, so I put my paper to the edge so that he could get a look.

Some say that it is not cheating if you don't get caught. But to me, cheating is cheating, for you are cheating yourself of an opportunity to learn. There have been times when I have been tempted to tell the teacher that a classmate cheated, especially when the student made a grade higher than that of most of us who studied. But I decided that another student's cheating was not my business. I didn't have the courage to confront the student or to tell the teacher.

Students also cheat by downloading reports from the Internet. Some don't take into consideration that plagiarizing is illegal. They rationalize that they couldn't find time to complete the assignment or that downloading information was convenient. I think all types of kids cheat. Some are really smart, but they forget to study, panic, and then resort to cheating so that their grades won't drop.

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Donald Shead

Senior, Inglewood High School, Inglewood

I recently enrolled at Inglewood after having attended a private school for two years. There was lots more cheating there than at my current school.

At the private school, parents put more pressure on students to make good grades. Students felt that they couldn't disappoint their parents.

Some became very creative in their cheating.

They would, for example, type cheat notes on a computer and print them in small print. Then they would put the notes in a pen that had a clear space. As they took their tests, they pretended to be fidgeting with their pen while they copied.

Many of my classmates at the private school took the attitude that they were not going to fail a class and that they didn't have time to go to summer school. They had the security of knowing that no one would tell the teacher, for the tattletale is not respected.

But I don't think that I could be satisfied knowing that I cheated to get higher grades. Sometimes I felt frustrated when I studied hard and made a B but the student who cheated made an A. When I voiced my feelings to another student, he would say, "Well, if you had cheated, you would have made an A too."

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