PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Cheating: Excuses, Excuses

Most kids who cheat in school know that cheating is wrong. But because they don't want to think of themselves as "cheaters," they come up with a whole bunch of reasons why they have to cheat. Let's take a look at some of the popular ones:

The Excuse: School is hard.
"All my classes are totally hard, and I can't keep up. If I don't cheat, my grades will be terrible."
Why It's Lame:
School isn't supposed to be easy. If you already knew all the answers, you wouldn't actually learn anything. If you try your best and the material still seems way harder for you than anybody else, it's time to talk to your teacher, counselor or parent. Cheating to get better grades will just hide the problem and, in the long run, just make school even more difficult.

The Excuse: School is unfair.
"Other kids have advantages over me. Some are smart, some are teacher's pets, and some even get private tutors. The only way I can get the same grades is to cheat sometimes."
Why It's Lame:
Yep, some kids make it all look easy, and that can seem unfair. But cheating is just another way of being unfair, isn't it? Let's say that you're the high scorer on your school's basketball team. Another kid sees you making it look easy, and thinks this gives her an excuse to cheat. You'd be angry, right? Breaking the rules is not the way to even things up.

The Excuse: Everybody's doing it.
"Cheating is no big deal because all the kids do it, and only the ones who are obvious get caught."
Why It's Lame:
People -- kids and adults -- do all sorts of things because they think everyone else does them, like taking towels from hotel rooms or driving through "Stop" signs. However, the fact that a lot of people do it and don't get caught doesn't make it any less wrong. Cheating is against the rules for very good reasons, and the fact that someone else did it and got away with it doesn't change this. Try to make your own decisions about what's right and wrong, and stay true to them.

The Excuse: It's only cheating if you do it on tests.
"My friends and I give each other the answers on homework and other stuff we do in class. It's not the same as cheating on a test."
Why It's Lame:
Homework and class projects are important ways to learn, and all students are supposed to finish their work on their own. Cheating on tests is one kind of cheating, but it's not the only kind. Any time you copy someone else's work or take credit for something you didn't do, it's still cheating, and it's still wrong.

The Excuse: It's not cheating, it's teamwork.
"We're supposed to cooperate with other kids, right? So why can't we work together and trade answers?"
Why It's Lame:
Sometimes teachers will assign group projects where you work with other students. But most assignments are supposed to be done by each student on his or her own, because this makes sure everyone understands every part of the lesson. If you only do half an assignment, and your friend does the other half, then each of you is only learning half the material, instead of both of you learning all of it. Even on group projects, each student is supposed to work hard, and if somebody ends up doing a lot less, this is a form of cheating.

The Excuse: This subject isn't important.
"I never cheat in my favorite classes, but some classes are just dumb, and the things they teach have nothing to do with my life."
Why It's Lame:
There are only so many hours in the school day, and school boards, teachers and parents work hard to make sure the subjects that get taught are the most important ones. There may be classes that you don't like or that don't come as easy to you, but this doesn't mean that the lessons aren't important. Getting a complete and well-rounded education means learning all kinds of different things, and you can't learn if you cheat.

The Excuse: I don't like my teacher.
"I don't like my teacher, and I don't think he likes me. So I just think it's okay to cheat in his class."
Why It's Lame:
Your feelings about your teacher shouldn't have anything to do with how you do your assignments and take tests. Although it's great to have a teacher that you like, the main job of a teacher is to help you learn, and you're expected to do your work and not cheat no matter who your teacher is. If you're having a real conflict with a teacher and it's affecting your attitudes about schoolwork, talk to a trusted adult about what's going on.

The Excuse: I don't have time to study.
"I'm stressed for time every day. When I cheat, it's only because I've got so much going on that there's no time left to study."
Why It's Lame:
If you don't have enough time to study, consider cutting back on your other activities, not your schoolwork. Like it or not, school is meant to be your top priority, and if other interests are taking too much time and energy away from it, things probably have to change. Ask a parent to help you rearrange your schedule so you have enough time for schoolwork every single day.

The Excuse: My parents expect perfect grades.
"My mom and dad put soooo much pressure on me about grades, they complain when I get B's and C's. I need A's. So I cheat."
Why It's Lame:
Most parents want their kids to get good grades because of what the grades represent: working hard and learning. In other words, it's earning the grade, not the grade itself, that's important. If you're having trouble earning the grades a parent expects of you, consider talking to her or him about what it would take to do better, including more time set aside for homework or outside tutoring. If you feel your parent's expectations are too high or putting too much pressure on you, you may want to discuss this with him or her, or with a school counselor.

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