in disturbing research by junior achievement and deloitte reported recently on ypulse, reveals that while most teens feel ethically prepared for adulthood, they also see lying, cheating, plagerizing and commit acts of violance as an acceptable means of achieving their goals.
The majority of teens surveyed (71 percent) say they feel fully prepared to make ethical decisions when they enter the workforce. Yet 38 percent of that group believe it is sometimes necessary to cheat, plagiarize, lie or even behave violently in order to succeed. Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of all teens surveyed think cheating on a test is acceptable on some level, and more than half of those teens (54 percent) say their personal desire to succeed is the rationale.
In a particularly alarming finding given recent cases of school violence, nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of all teens surveyed think violence toward another person is acceptable on some level. Of those who think so, the justifications for violence include settling an argument (27 percent) and revenge (20 percent).
Pressure to succeed in school seems to be driving many teens’ opinions that unethical behavior is an acceptable means to an end. Of the teens who think plagiarism is acceptable on some level, 37 percent think a personal desire to succeed is justification — that number climbs to 51 percent among the students who feel overwhelming pressure to succeed.
apparently the research doesn’t provide reasons for these stats. i hate to blame everything on media, but i do wonder (as does anastasia, in her post) whether this is related to teenagers viewing a lifetime of “acceptable” violence on tv, movies and video games, as well as cheating and lying (particularly on reality tv, as the way to “win”). i also what role our ongoing war in iraq plays on teenage perceptions that violence is sometimes acceptable. certainly, from what i’ve read in studies and heard from kids, cheating in school is the absolute norm; but i’m not sure if that’s a chicken or an egg when it comes to these survey results.
boundaries between personal and public life are also addressed in the research, in ways that show both a naiveté and a double-standard:
The survey also found that teens have difficulty in understanding that unethical behavior transcends the boundaries between private life, school or work life, and online behavior. More than a quarter (27 percent) of all teens surveyed said it is not fair for an employer to suspend or fire employees for unethical behavior outside of their jobs and another quarter (26 percent) said they weren’t sure if it was fair or not.
Additionally, more than half (57 percent) of all teens surveyed believe it is not fair for employers to make hiring or firing decisions based on material they have posted to the internet and another 19 percent weren’t sure if it was fair or not. Illustrating teens’ perception of different ethical standards for online versus “real world” behavior, nearly half (47 percent) of teens said it was acceptable on some level to illegally download music without paying for it, but only 5 percent said it was acceptable to steal something from a store.