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My 16 year old daughter just got caught cheating on an English
test. What is the very best way to handle this situation?
It seems like an isolated event, a lapse in judgement
rather than part of a pattern? I think the natural
consequence came about in the situation and there's not
much more you really have to do in terms of creating
consequences. I would probably try to talk about it in an
open, questioning way... ''What happened?'' Other
questions, ''Why did you do it? Was it worth it?'' may
communicate judgment and shut her down. Wouldn't any of us
feel stupid and humiliated if we were caught doing
something we knew was wrong? Is there anyone who hasn't
ever made a mistake? I guess I'd let her know that I'm
disappointed, but everyone makes mistakes, and I'd really
like to hear about what happened.
I thought it might help to post a letter I received and answered in my
newsletter. Cheating on tests is, unfortunately, incredibly common. Current
national surveys put it at about 75%, that is, at some time in their high
career 75% of students will cheat or plagiarize. Cheating and plagiarizing is
also supported and even encouraged in a variety of different ways and teens
see it constantly. I've done extensive surveys on cheating and most kids say
that they cheat as a ''time management'' device insofar as they are over
scheduled and usually have to choose between devoting time to one subject
over another. Copying another's homework, downloading work from the
internet or using some other means to cheat is rampant and common,
especially among ''good'' students. Here is my response, below. Additional
resources are available online at www.practicalhelpforparents.com. Thanks.
I am seeking advice on how to handle our dealings with our 17 year-old
daughter in regards to her getting caught cheating on her final. I received a
call from the Dean today about her having to appear before some kind of
school organization that handles these kinds of violations of the student
rules. I’m trying hard to keep this in perspective, but I’m upset and trying
help steer this to some positive outcome. What do you think?
I think the most important thing is to let your daughter take the lead on
so that she can restore her sense of integrity and feel that she is “making
things right.” That means nobody else can do it for her. I can understand
your wish to “steer” this well for her, but the strongest support you can
to help her brainstorm the situation and try to come up with her own sense of
what needs to be repaired. When someone cheats on an exam, relationships
get strained and trust gets broken. How does one respond to breaches of
trust, and allow for mistakes but still take responsibility? What does it
to cheat? What does it mean to “make things right?” To me, the most positive
outcome would be for your daughter to have to deeply struggle with the
choices she made, to think back on what happened and actually recognize
that she had choices, and to try to figure out why she didn’t listen to her
voice which probably told her that even though she might need to cut
corners, it probably wasn’t a good idea, in the long run, to cheat. I bet
voice was there—why didn’t she listen to herself? What got in the way?
I think that if you and others support her in thinking and feeling through
these questions, she’ll know what to do, and will probably come to some of
the same conclusions you want her to…but it will be much more powerful if
she can find them for herself, rather than being told.
My child was recently accused of cheating on a test. Teacher
says yes, child says no. Child has to date always been
honest and trustworthy, as best we know and can tell
(really). It will not be in child's (middle school) records,
but child is very upset. How to proceed down the path of
either acceptance and/or resolution so this experience
doesn't haunt my child forever? Note: mom had similar
experience in 5th grade and still feels (but not acts on!)
the injustice of it all.
I'm sorry that your child is having this very difficult
problem with a teacher. I served for a number of years on a
committee that dealt with academic misconduct among
university students, and a very common problem was lack of
clarity about what precisely constituted ''cheating.''
Another problem was the instructor's impression that s/he
was disrepected by the student who ''cheated.'' You don't
give very much information in your post, but still it
strikes me that a conversation in which the parents and the
child and the teacher speak together in a rational and
non-blaming way about this issue could be very productive.
All of you seem to have a point in common: you believe in
academic honesty. You could present the issue in this way:
we are concerned about academic honesty in our child and in
our child's classroom and so we would like to talk about
this incident. What precisely was perceived to have
occurred? What harm does the teacher feel this incident
caused the class and/or the student and/or her feelings of
being respected? How might your child and the teacher have
perceived things differently? How can you avoid these
differing perceptions in the future? A simple declaration
of ''I didn't do it'' countered by a ''Yes, you did'' does not
address what precisely was done and how precisely it
infringed on classroom ethics. An expression of respect for
the teacher's work and the ideal of academic honesty from
your side might help, while more clarity and understanding
from the teacher's side would help as well.
As a parent but also a teacher, I have found that parents
find it hard to believe their child could cheat but even the
best ones do on occasion. Believe the teacher. It is amazing
how prevalent it is. Gone are the days when a teacher could
sit and do paperwork while a test is going on. Children have
to avoid any hint of cheating - they have to keep their eyes
on their paper and not look at another's.
parent and teacher
''Parent and Teacher'' says parents ''find it hard to believe
their child could cheat but even the best ones do on
occasion. Believe the teacher.'' I know stealing isn't
cheating (as such) but I have a story for you:
My son was accused by a BHS teacher last year of stealing a
calculator I'd bought - to replace one stolen from his
backpack (in her class!). He was told the model I'd bought
him(Craigslist) was ''too good''for a student and must belong
to one of the teachers, so she took it away.
To get the it back I had to write a note attesting to having
bought it. The teacher then suggested maybe I'd bought
stolen goods...and I told her if I did, it was still in
Walnut Creek not Berkeley --
I also told her if that calculator was ''too good'' for my son
she could trade him for one like his original, and keep the
''better'' one for herself.
I secretly hoped she'd apologize to my son -- but she just
traded calculators and said nothing.
The harm she did my son would have been 10 times as great if
I hadn't believed his story -- Instead, I backed him and
resolved the problem without making it worse than it was.
And no, he's not in her class anymore. That's a different story.
Hi, original poster here. We 1) had a civil conversation
with the teacher about whole thing, 2) got full story from
our child 3) could not convince teacher or even get teacher
to listen to number 2), and 4) are now supporting our child
100% and trying to move on. In that order. P.S. Technically
it was not ''cheating'' (because my child was seen waving a
paper around and the other student involved DIDN'T ask or
even WANT to look at my child's paper, so didn't look), but
improper conduct during a test, we all agreed upon. Thanks all!
Disappointed with (Some) Adults
this page was last updated: Nov 21, 2008
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