Lying, Cheating and Stealing…it’s What Teens Do

A recent study showing an uptick in honesty among American teens prompted the founder of the organization conducting the study, Michael Josephson, to say “I think we have turned the corner.”

From 2010 to 2012, the changes include:

  • Stealing, down to 20% from 27%
  • Lying to a teacher, down to 55% from 61%
  • Cheating on an exam, down to 51% from 59%
  • Lying to parents about something significant, down to 76% from 80%

The percent of teens still, shall we say, “deficient” in character, is troubling.  It makes you wonder what you don’t know, doesn’t it?  Indeed, Josephson commented, “It’s a small ray of sunshine shining through lots of dark clouds.”

Mom and Dad…let’s not grow weary in educating our children to be young men and women of integrity.  We’ve clearly got a lot of work to do!  We CAN have hope that we can make a difference–Josephson attributed some of this significant uptick in teen integrity to parents who are increasingly concerned with teaching their children that honesty is important.   

The Teen Brain: More on Morality

Hi Parents,

 A few posts ago I blogged about a recent study that talked about teens’ moral practices and their sense of self. Today I found another article that expanded on that topic a bit, focusing specifically on how teens’ brains develop morality in the first place. Here’s an excerpt:

 “What has gone wrong? The commission began with a vital question: How do human beings develop a moral compass and strong character in the first place? Instead of answering from a therapeutic or “treatment” perspective, it started by examining the latest brain science.

According to the report, recent brain research indicates that children require two kinds of connections to flourish. First, they need strong, stable bonds with family and adults in the larger community. Second, they need a vision of life that offers meaning and purpose.

Our kids are failing to thrive, in good measure, because the social institutions that used to provide both kinds of connections have weakened in recent decades.”

What do you think? To see the whole article, click here.

There’s an  article all over the web this week. It’s titled, Students Cheat, Steal, But Say They’re GoodI know it doesn’t have a very encouraging ring to it. But I read it, and I wonder what you think, parents.

Consider this excerpt from the first paragraph. “In the past year, 30% of U.S. high school students have stolen from a store and 64% have cheated on a test, according to a new, large-scale survey suggesting that Americans are too apathetic about ethical standards.” Later on, the article states, “93% of the students said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character, and 77% affirmed that “when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know.”

I am bothered by these statistics. It makes me wonder what sort of behaviors and people are teenagers comparing themselves to? Just what activities are the “people they know” engaged in? This ought to tell us there is something seriously amiss in our teenagers thinking processes.

It also made me question myself – Have I cheated in some way recently? (Obviously not on a test, but in some other way?) When was the last time I lied, or stole something? (Time at work can count!) And am I satisfied with my own ethics? What sort of example am I giving to the teenagers in my own life?

Parents, how do you feel about this issue?