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Cheating at School

What is cheating?

Cheating is when students purposely get answers to a test or homework without doing the work themselves. School cheating comes in many forms:

  • MP3 players such as iPods can be loaded with test answers instead of music.
  • Cell phones can access the Web to look up answers.
  • Students can buy work, such as term papers and book reports, on the Internet.
  • Some students use crib notes. They sneak answers in on their hand, a piece of paper, or the bill of a baseball cap.
  • Children may copy someone else's work or answers.

The consequences of cheating can be serious and have long lasting effects on self esteem and achievement.

Why do kids cheat?

Many students cheat at least once, even though they know cheating is wrong. The most common excuses kids give for cheating include:

  • Trying to please parents or teachers. Kids may fear the results of getting poor grades. They cheat in order not to get in trouble, or to make their parents happy.
  • Feeling pressure to get good grades so they can get scholarships or to be accepted into a good college or grad school.
  • Believing that everyone cheats.
  • Feeling overwhelmed with school work and extracurricular activities. Many kids have less time to study because of other activities.

What can parents do?

  • Talk with your child about what cheating is and why it is wrong. Very young children don't understand what cheating is, but by the time they are in elementary school they can understand the meaning of right, wrong, and fair. Let them know that cheating is not OK. Its best if you talk with your child before cheating becomes a problem. Here are some messages to give your children:
    • Cheating is a lie. It makes people believe you know more than you actually know. You’ll worry about getting caught, and when you do get caught, you’ll feel guilty, embarrassed, and ashamed.
    • It isn't fair to the students who don't cheat.
    • When people know that you cheat, they can’t trust you. They lose respect for you, and you lose respect for yourself.
    • You'll never know how well you could have done without cheating. If you feel like you can’t do well unless you cheat, you won’t be self-confident.
    • Students who get caught cheating can get in big trouble:
      • You may fail a test or a class.
      • You may be grounded, put on detention, or not be able to play sports.
      • You may not be able to get into college.
      • If you cheat more than once, you may be suspended or expelled.
  • If your child has cheated, ask why. It could be there is something troubling him. Don’t tell your child that he is "bad" just because he cheated. Let him know that you're disappointed with him, but that you still love him and that you're there to help.
  • Be a good role model. If your kids see you cheating while playing a game, cheating on your taxes, or not being honest with the clerk at the grocery store, you are giving them the message that cheating is OK. Make honesty the rule in your family. Play sports or games with the family to show children how to compete without cheating.
  • Don't put too much pressure on your child to get good grades. Let your child know that learning and doing his best are more important than grades. Praise your child for persistence and attitude. When at a sporting event, compliment the sportsmanship and the effort of the players rather than focusing on who won or lost.
  • Get involved in the learning process. Ask to see your child’s schoolwork. Talk about what he’s learning. Help with homework but don't do it for your child or give the answers. If your child is getting frustrated with homework on a particular subject, try to find a fun way to help your child learn. For example, try adding, subtracting, and dividing with a bag of chocolate candies to help with math. Spend time with your child doing fun activities that he can learn from, not just educational activities.
  • Find ways to build your child’s confidence. If your child feels self confident, he may be less likely to cheat.
  • Talk to your child’s teachers about how to help your child feel successful without feeling the need to cheat. Volunteer to help at school and get involved in parent/teacher groups.

If your child cheats on a test or homework, the punishment may include failing the assignment or test. You may also want to temporarily take away a privilege such as TV, computer, or game time for younger children or take away cell phone or driving privileges from a teen. If your child continues to cheat, talk with a mental health professional. Getting help early may help avoid more serious problems later on.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-06-30
Last reviewed: 2014-06-30
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
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