In The Know – Chatting or Cheating?

Thirty-five percent of students admitted to using a cell phone in class to cheat. (1)

Cheating. It’s nothing new. You struggled not to do it; now your child struggles not to do it. Today, the availability of information is more accessible to teens than ever before. You don’t have to locate a copy machine to pass on to your friend who takes the test in the next period. Now, you can simply text away as you walk down the hall.

Jason M. Stephens, Ph.D., an assistant professor of educational psychology at the University of Connecticut studies academic dishonesty. “Teens rarely think cheating is acceptable – but they do think it’s understandable,” he says. “Things like getting into a good college or helping out a friend often offset the wrongness of cheating.” (1)

The age old question is why? Why cheat? Could we as parents have anything to do with the answer?

During the time I have mentored teen girls I have often heard them express concern and distress about the amount of pressure that they feel to perform. Whether that is to get a great grade point average, to get into a certain college or simply to “do their best” some teens feel the weight very intensely. Is this pressure that they are putting on themselves or pressure that we are putting on them?

I recently had a conversation with a friend about her son who is now in college. She said that at the time when he was in high school, she didn’t realize the pressure she was bringing. She simply wanted him to do well. She didn’t know the impact that this pressure was having on his life.

When it comes to your teen and her grades, how are you doing? Do you acknowledge when your child is doing their best? (which may or may not be the same as their older brother). Does your child sense that your approval is weighed by the weight of their grade point?

Take some time today to reassure your student that no matter what you love him. No matter if it is a 4.0 or 2.0, their value doesn’t change. Yes, you want them to do their best. Yes, you want the best for their future. But what you really want more than that is their well being and a relationship with them that is built on unconditional love.

1. Belz, Leigh. “Wrong Answer.” Teen Vogue. March 2010: 82 – 83.


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