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Teens lie, cheat & steal less

A new ethics survey finds that high school students are straightening up.

By Britt Olson MSN Living Editor Nov 27, 2012 2:29AM

Indicting our age and its corrupt customs is as old as Cicero. But a new study by the Josephson Institute of Ethics suggests high school students are actually more moral than in years past.

Photo: Digital Vision./Getty ImagesThe study found that reported incidents of stealing, cheating and lying were down for the first time in a decade among a sampling of 23,000 teens.

Fifty-one percent of high schoolers surveyed confessed to cheating in 2012, compared with a reported 59 percent in 2010. Specifically, copying another’s homework dropped from 34 to 32 percent among the survey sample.

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Deception also dropped among teens, according to the Josephson Institute. In 2010, 61 percent of those questioned admitted to lying to a teacher “in the past year about something significant;” 2012 saw 55 percent of students doing the same. Dissembling to one's parents decreased from 80 to 76 percent in the two-year timespan.

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Shoplifting, too, fell among the high school students surveyed. 2012 saw 20 percent of teens admitting to the crime, versus 27 percent in 2010.

On the whole, the study found that young adults consider ethics when making decisions. However, it also indicated that boys are slightly more dishonest than girls.

“It’s a small ray of sunshine shining through lots of dark clouds,” said Michael Josephson, the founder and president of the Josephson Institute of Ethics. “Changes in children’s behavior of this magnitude suggest a major shift in parenting and school involvement in issues of honesty and character. Though there is still far too much cheating, lying and stealing, I think we have turned the corner.”

Photo: Digital Vision./Getty Images

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Nov 28, 2012 1:44AM

I have a Step-Daughter that can not open her mouth without lying. Sad thing, it's taught to her daily by her biological father; he's a real piece of sh*t!! In turn, the kid is following in his footsteps. The apple did not fall far from the tree.


How are you doing Brian Doyle, Hickory Creek, TX.

Nov 28, 2012 1:22AM

I'm not buying this for a second. Moral behavior and respect for parents/authority has gotten increasingly worse...sure as hell not better.

Nov 28, 2012 12:57AM

I believe the young kids today are more honest than those of the past. I am 65 years old and I see it in my grandchildren that they are much more up-front and honest  than many other earlier on generations.


Sure there are a few that are and can be worse than many other generations but I do agree that many more tend to be very good and certainly much more honest than lets say our current politicians and definitely the CEO's of today. So, the future of our country very well may be better than today


Great to see this!!!

Nov 28, 2012 12:54AM
Teenagers are teenagers. It all depends on how everyone is raised, individually. Teens often lie on who they are to impress their friends' way of thinking on what the trend is. Some lie for other reasons (e.g progress reports, values etc [teen stuff]).). Don't assume teens are the ONLY big liars. Adults as well are liars. Some less than teens, some more than teens. Just because people are older doesn't mean they are wiser than the youth. Adults lie to their bosses calling in "sick" when really they need a break. Look at the stats for crime in people +18. We cannot discriminate an age group, we were there too. Remember when YOU lied to YOUR parents.
Nov 28, 2012 12:48AM
I really do not believe this one.  I have been robbed repeatedly by breakins to my car, my room and all were young teens roaming the streets at night.  Even worse are the 18 to 30 crowd. No morals, no respect for others property.  The next one I catch may lose their right hand. The one good idea from Islam.
Nov 27, 2012 11:05PM
earlier this year, had a study that teenage crime was up to record levels, i guess they are better at the lies.
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