10 Reasons Why Cheating Is Wrong

Talking Points for Parents to Share With Teens

Teen looking cover classmate's shoulder at paper
Image Source/Getty Images

Cheating has become an epidemic among teenagers. It's become so common that many teens think it's normal and they don't understand why it is wrong. Technology makes cheating easy and it becomes harder for teachers to detect. Students use their smartphones to look up answers in class—or to text the answers to their friends. They can take someone else's work from the internet and try to pass it off as their own. There are apps to translate foreign language homework, and sometimes there are complete homework assignments posted on websites.

Some teens think they're helping their friends by doing their work for them. Others say they cheat because they feel like they're under immense academic pressure. Often, the pressure to "help" other students stems from the pressure today's teens feel to succeed. They may think their parents value achievement above all else or they may think getting into college at all costs is more important than honesty.

In 2012, 51% of teens admitted they had cheated on an exam in the past year and 32% admitted they had copied an Internet document for an assignment. An additional 55% of students surveyed said they'd lied to a teacher about something significant in the past year.

Top 10 Cheating Talking Points

Whether you suspect your teen may be doing his friends' homework for them or you're trying to be proactive in preventing any problems before they start, talk to your teen about some of the risks associated with cheating. These talking points can give you an idea of things you may want to address.

  1. Cheating is lying. Whether you copy off someone else's paper, or you plagiarize something you found online, you're claiming that you are responsible for the work.
  2. Cheating is a form of theft. Taking someone's work and calling it your own is stealing.
  3. Cheating is unfair to others. Students who work hard to get good grades shouldn't have to compete with those who aren't doing their own work. Also, people will someday believe in your abilities. If your abilities are not real because you cheated, you will let those people down.
  4. Cheating is self-degrading. When you cheat, you are telling yourself that you do not believe in your own abilities enough to do the work on your own.
  5. Cheating is unfair to you. Accomplishment feels good and helps build self-esteem and self-confidence. These are two very important things to a happy successful adult.
  6. Cheating makes the next learning step harder. Using a simple example: if you don't learn your elements in Chemistry class you will not be able to make complex chemical equations. Therefore, to pass you will have to cheat again or start from scratch. It's easier to just learn the basics the first time.
  7. Cheating kills trust. Get caught cheating just once and authority figures will always have a hard time trusting you—even if you never cheat again.
  8. Cheating causes stress. Passing someone else's work off as your own means you'll have to be dishonest and being deceitful is inherently stressful. Keeping those secrets adds additional stress of being discovered as a cheater.
  9. Cheating is an insult to those who are teaching you. Knowledge is power and when someone shares knowledge with you it is a gift.
  10. Cheating doesn't end in high school. Cheating often becomes a shortcut. It turns into a bad habit that can follow you throughout college and your future career. Instead of being 'someone who cheated,' you're likely to become 'an ongoing cheater.'

Talking to Your Teen

Hold regular conversations with your teen about cheating. Ask questions like, "Do any of your friends cheat?" "Is cheating a big problem in your school?" or "Do you feel any pressure to cheat on your to try to get ahead?"

Listen to what your teen has to say about cheating. Ask your teen what she thinks constitutes cheating in today's digital world.

Cheating can be a little harder to define. Is it OK to use a website that translates your words into a foreign language? Is it cheating if you take a paper off the internet but put some of the sentences in your own words? Solicit your teen's opinions about these types of questions and then share your own ideas.

Keep in mind that it's important to be a good role model. If you cheat on your taxes or you're dishonest when you're returning items to a store, your teen will learn it's OK to cheat the system. Show your teen the importance of being honest, even when it's hard, and emphasize that there are consequences for cheating.

6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Character Counts: Biennial report card on American youth by Josephson Institute of Ethics.

  2. Bretag T. Challenges in addressing plagiarism in education. PLoS Med. 2013;(10)12:e1001574.  doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001574

  3. Korn L, Davidovitch N. The profile of academic offenders: Features of students who admit to academic dishonesty. Med Sci Monit. 2016;(22):3043-55.  doi:10.12659/MSM.898810

  4. Ströfer S, Ufkes EG, Noordzij ML, Giebels E. Catching a deceiver in the act: Processes underlying deception in an interactive interview setting. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2016;(41)3:349-62. doi:10.1007/s10484-016-9339-8

  5. Barbaranelli C, Farnese ML, Tramontano C, et al. Machiavellian ways to academic cheating: A mediational and interactional model. Front Psychol. 2018;(9):695.  doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00695

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Communicating with your child: quick tips.

Additional Reading

By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, an international bestselling author of books on mental strength and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. She delivered one of the most popular TEDx talks of all time.