Why kids cheat and what to do about it

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Why kids cheat and what to do about it

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Stephen Wallace: I recently wrote a column for Psychology Today called Does Character Count in which I highlight high profile cases of cheating at Harvard University and that story of that high school in New York. And what I concluded was that more often than not, young people engage in cheating to get ahead, to succeed. To achieve some educational goal that they had before them. We can recognize signs of cheating if suddenly our child’s grades and test scores are unusually high, or if we see that they’re using their friends to perhaps fulfill their homework assignments or project assignments at school. Or even something as simple as noting writing of answers on body parts or arms and hands which many children do to cheat. If those things are in evidence, then we need to address them. We need to talk about cheating and how it fits or doesn’t fit into our family values. Many times, it’s important also to make sure we understand whether high grades and test scores are the results of increased effort. So we need not leap to conclusions. We want to make sure that we’re not discouraging more studying, more effort that’s resulting in those higher grades. If in fact that cheating is taking place, then it needs to be addressed with the professor, the teacher. Young people need to be held accountable for the choices that they’re making and that means acknowledging mistakes, acknowledging bad behavior and offering again, some sort of restitution.

Watch Stephen Gray Wallace, MS Ed's video on Why kids cheat and what to do about it...

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Stephen Gray Wallace, MS Ed

School Psychologist & Author

Stephen Gray Wallace, director of the Center for Adolescent Research and Education (CARE), has broad experience as a school psychologist and adolescent and family counselor. He is also the senior advisor for policy, research, and education at SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), an organization he served as national chairman and chief executive officer for more than fifteen years. 

Stephen serves the Cape Cod Sea Camps as a resident camp director and the director of counseling and counselor training and the American Camp Association as a feature magazine writer, media spokesperson and faculty member at its e-Institute for Professional Development, a role he also plays for the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The White House, the American Camp Association, SADD, Camping Magazine, and the Susquehanna University Alumni Association have formally honored Stephen for being a tireless and passionate advocate for youth.

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