Oh, their cheating hearts

Renee Rosenow

I watched a video on YouTube yesterday showing how to cheat on a test using a Coke bottle.

The “tutorial” video shows how to cut the label cleanly, scan it to a computer, edit the original words and make your own in Photoshop and print out a replica of the original label on glossy paper. All of this to attempt to cheat on a simple test.

This is not the only video regarding cheating on YouTube. There are over 2,700 hits when “how to cheat on a test” is entered into the search box. Other popular models of cheating include stretching out a rubber band and writing on it, as well as writing on a piece of paper, rolling it up and putting it inside of a clear pen. Genius, right?

A recent study by the Josephine Institute, an ethics based institute in Los Angeles, has found in the past year 64 percent of high school students have cheated on a test, 38 percent of which have cheated two or more times. Thirty-six percent said they have used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment in the past year.

These numbers are both increases from 2004 and 2006, showing cheating is on the rise.

What is more disturbing is 93 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with their ethics and character, a scary thought to ponder for people who already have jobs and are entering college in the next few semesters.

There is no doubt there are more opportunities to cheat now then there were even a few years ago. Back when I was in high school, there was no YouTube or Facebook to pass along any information regarding cheating.

Although the Internet was around in the late 90s, using Google or Yahoo! is much more prevalent now, where fake essays and papers are one click away.

Web sites such as Spark Notes offer summaries for countless numbers of books as well. And especially in high school, kids copy from one another all of the time.

This seems to be a huge problem, especially at the high school level, where in my opinion, it is easy to get away with cheating. The academic dishonesty speech was given to me and classmates multiple times, but it was more of a “you better not do it” tactic compared to how it is actually enforced in college.

I can’t remember one time where someone I knew was expelled or even suspended for cheating, even when they were caught. And I knew a lot who cheated, mostly copying assignments and getting information online.

Furthermore, in a Yahoo! news article and a report by CBS news, many high school teachers feel like cheating is not a problem, especially in their area. Just because cheating may not happen at one high school doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem anywhere else. These teachers may not realize that cheating is taking place right under their noses.

Now, there may be more pressure felt by many high school students now than in previous years to succeed, ultimately to get into a great college. Parents, teachers and even school administrators might be pushing kids harder than in past generations. High school students are involved in sports, clubs, part-time jobs and are college searching.

But that does not warrant any type of cheating, nor should it condone it. Some of these respondents who have cheated must be going to college. When they do and tests and assignments actually get difficult, along with the stress-level doubling, what is going to happen? Just because high school students, especially seniors, are busy with activities is not a gateway to the easy solution of cheating.

There needs to be more enforcement for cheating at the high school level. As seen from the statistics, it is a problem and something needs to be done about it. It can’t continue to be ignored, much like it is by many high schools.

A campaign in Long Island has attempted to stop cheating and plagiarism, using a team of school superintendents and college presidents to draw attention to academic integrity problems. This is one of the many ways cheating can be combated around the country, with both high schools and colleges working together.

High school teachers should also explain more clearly the difference between borrowing information and stealing it. I learned a tremendous amount about citing, paraphrasing and directly quoting in my freshmen year of college. I’m sure many students are not deliberately trying to steal information do not give credit for it, which can put them in jeopardy. I think this would be a great tool to teach to high school students, before they get to college.

Some of the tutorial videos on YouTube actually show the faces of students encouraging others to cheat. These students are taking a risk even in high school of being caught. Anyone can view material on YouTube, even what seem to be old and technology illiterate teachers and principals. High school students also need to consider the risk they will take if they attempt to try these flamboyant tactics in college. Although not everyone can be caught cheating, it is taken much more seriously at the college level. We have all seen the outlines in syllabi taking up one or two pages, detailing academic dishonesty. Professors are much more aware of plagiarism. Why not take it seriously at the high school level?

Anderson is a senior print journalism major and a news editor for The Spectator.