Stealing and Cheating

The following excerpt is from Parenting To Build Character In Your Teen, a guide to fostering ethical behavior and decision-making in adolescents.

A national survey conducted in 2000 by the Josephson Institute of Ethics showed that at least 70 percent of all high school students cheat at least once each year. About half admit to cheating repetitively.

Stealing likewise seems rampant. According to the survey, at least 40 percent of the males and 30 percent of the females admitted that they stole something from a store in the past 12 months.And about one in four high schoolers said they stole something from a parent or relative in the same period.

It’s hard to believe that your kids would cheat or steal, but it is wise to accept the real possibility that culture puts great pressures on teens to sacrifice principles of honesty for personal gain and peer group approval.

Talk to your teens about the pressures they face. Let your son or daughter know that all people, including you, are in a constant struggle to live up to high standards of ethics and honor, and that the real measure of character is the ongoing commitment to self-improvement.