DR. WALLACE: I go to a private high school. When a teacher gives a test, the teacher leaves the room. The entire school takes tests on the honor system. I can honestly tell you that the honor system doesn't work here. As soon as the teacher leaves the room, out come the cheat sheets. Some students are so brazen, they even open the textbook and look for the correct answers.
I have thought about telling our principal, but I can't get the courage to do it. In fact, my parents advised me to do my very best and ignore the cheaters who are only cheating themselves.
Why do kids cheat so blatantly? Are they too lazy to do their homework? — Anonymous, Irving, Texas
ANONYMOUS: Students cheat for a number of reasons. Parental pressure to get good grades is the main one. Many cheaters are intelligent but figure, "Why study when I can cheat and still make good grades?" In some families, cheating is normal. Many students have observed their parents cheating on their income tax returns. Teens witness a parent's misuse of company funds, while others watch parents steal company supplies because, "The company won't miss them, and, besides, I should be making more money for the job I do for the company." The teens who observe their parents cheating think it's OK as long as they don't get caught.
But cheating is still morally wrong. Honesty is always the best policy, and those who follow this credo will be the winners in the long run.
DON'T SAY NEVER
DR. WALLACE: You once wrote: "Running away from home is never a solution to a family problem; it only compounds it."
I don't like your word "never." What about the teen who is being abused, both physically and sexually, by a stepfather? That's what happened to my best friend, and after discussing it with me, we both agreed the best thing she could do was run away (with her boyfriend) and start a new life in another location.
Never say never. — Loyal Friend, via email
P.S. I don't even know where they are!
LOYAL FRIEND: Your friend was in a dangerous situation and clearly needed to leave her home as soon as possible, but I fear she may have jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Her best bet would have been to find shelter with a relative or friend and notify the proper authorities. She should have talked the matter over with her school counselor or nurse and a trusted adult who could provide help and guidance. Her stepfather was engaging in criminal behavior and should have faced the consequences.
I know that some teens face untenable situations at home and have no option but to leave. But they shouldn't try to face the world on their own. It can be a cold, cruel place for a runaway. Many girls who run away from home wind up supporting themselves through prostitution or by selling drugs; guys often turn to crimes for cash as well. I truly hope your friend and her boyfriend are safe. But never, ever, would I encourage a teen to run away from home. I do encourage them to take immediate actions to extricate themselves from an untenable situation but to do so with the assistance and guidance of trusted adults who care.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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