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Monday, February 24, 2014

HAS CHEATING REACHED PANDEMIC PROPORTIONS?

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

- Or is it just isolated incidents?

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When did cheating become an acceptable form of behavior? Did I miss the memo? According to the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the Ad Council, "73% of all test takers, including prospective graduate students and teachers agree that most students do cheat at some point, and 86% of high school students agreed." Translation: cheating has reached pandemic proportions and is now an inherent part of the American culture.

It may start out innocently, but cheating rapidly becomes a lifestyle. We can now find it on school tests and exams, plagiarism, cheating on our taxes, etc. I have a friend who teaches illustration at a Midwest college. Recently he told me his students were copying the illustrations of other students as found on the Internet. My friend rightfully resents being turned from a full-time instructor, to a part-time sleuth to determine if his students are doing original work. I have heard of college students copying term papers, but artwork?

Students are also hacking into school computers to gain access to exams and alter grades and scores. A prime example of this was recorded last month in Los Angeles where eleven high school students were caught hacking into the school's computers. Subsequently, they were expelled. This scandal captured the attention of the press, as well as the FBI who joined the investigation.

Cheating has also extended into the military where scandals have recently emerged, such as the Navy sailors who stand accused of cheating on tests training for nuclear reactors. Likewise, the Air Force discovered officers cheating on proficiency tests to launch nuclear weapons. These stories are particularly disturbing when you consider these people are managing our military nuclear resources. Obviously, we want people who can be trusted and are proficient in these positions, not someone of questionable character.

In the Information Technology community, it is not uncommon for employees to hack and steal program source code, thereby expediting the production of programming. This occurs so often, it is now considered SOP in many companies. Such attitudes obviously present a threat to intellectual property and a disregard for our laws pertaining to copyrights, patents, trade secrets, and trademarks. Frankly, it is a violation of the "Copyright Clause" of the Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8) whereby, "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." From this perspective, cheating is unpatriotic.

If caught, cheating results in a variety of penalties, be it a fine, a suspension, an expulsion, etc., all of which becomes a part of a person's permanent record, and I do not believe young people understand this until it is too late. Perhaps the biggest danger is it may do irreparable harm to a person's reputation. To illustrate, I know of a student who, after graduating from college, produced a resume with false college scores to secure a well paying job. Remarkably, he was caught by the employer who pressed charges against him. Even though the matter was settled nearly forty years ago, his High School classmates have not forgotten and whisper about it at reunions, even to this day. In the eyes of the other students, his reputation remains in tatters.

Cheating ultimately denotes a person's character; is he honest and capable of performing the work, or incompetent and inclined to cut corners? Even though cheating appears to be on the rise, evidently there is little shame in getting caught. Perhaps it is a new twisted red badge of courage awarded to those who somehow beat the system. If we are to believe the recent cheating statistics and scandals, we can reasonably conclude there is no longer any disgrace in cheating, and it will likely continue unabated. All of this reveals the declining moral values of the country.

Perhaps the only way to stop cheating is to make the punishments more severe. If shame cannot deter people, perhaps stiffer penalties are in order. Such should rightfully be the price of cheating.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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