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America’s Future: Liars, Cheats, Thieves

John on December 2, 2008 at 9:53 am

Here’s the AP version:

The Josephson Institute, a Los Angeles-based ethics institute, surveyed 29,760 students at 100 randomly selected high schools nationwide, both public and private. All students in the selected schools were given the survey in class; their anonymity was assured.

Michael Josephson, the institute’s founder and president, said he was most dismayed by the findings about theft. The survey found that 35 percent of boys and 26 percent of girls — 30 percent overall — acknowledged stealing from a store within the past year. One-fifth said they stole something from a friend; 23 percent said they stole something from a parent or other relative.

“What is the social cost of that — not to mention the implication for the next generation of mortgage brokers?” Josephson remarked in an interview. “In a society drenched with cynicism, young people can look at it and say ‘Why shouldn’t we? Everyone else does it.’”

Other findings from the survey:

_Cheating in school is rampant and getting worse. Sixty-four percent of students cheated on a test in the past year and 38 percent did so two or more times, up from 60 percent and 35 percent in a 2006 survey.

_Thirty-six percent said they used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment, up from 33 percent in 2004.

_Forty-two percent said they sometimes lie to save money — 49 percent of the boys and 36 percent of the girls.

Despite such responses, 93 percent of the students said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character, and 77 percent affirmed that “when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know.”

There is a grocery store near my house. It’s not the one I go to or even my second choice, but once in a while I’ll be over that way and need something so I’ll stop in. Twice in the last 5 years when I’ve been in this store I’ve witnessed groups of kids stealing food. This is in Huntington Beach, mind you. Average home value around half a million dollars. These kids are middle-class or better. I get the impression it’s just cooler if you steal it. I have the sinking feeling this is how you wind up with a nation where only 50% of the people pay taxes and all of those who don’t say that’s perfectly fair.

Maybe Scott can share some cheating stories. As a high school teacher, I’m sure he has some.

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