Criminal charges for cheating on a high school test? It seems a bit harsh. Especially considering that an ABC News article titled Cheating Scandals Rock Three Top-Tier High Schools, says a national survey found two-thirds of students admitted to cheating. 90 percent said they cheat on homework.
Though the article indicates the experts (whose identities were not mentioned) say cheating is an epidemic, it seems students are just finding more high-tech ways to cheat. Cheating itself is hardly a new phenomenon.
Recent scandals discussed in the article include both public and private school across the nation. In one of these incidents, students used a master key to steal an exam from an office. The key, it turns out, has been passed down for years from the graduating senior class. A new twist is that the students copied the test with a camera phone. In another incident in Hanover, N.H., criminal court proceedings are underway in response to an incident where students broke into a filing cabinet for exams.
While this type of behavior is certainly not OK, should it be a criminal offense? Technically, the children above did break the law, but people hold different viewpoints on whether charges should have been pressed. After all, cheating can range from copying off someone’s paper to working in groups on individual assignments to plagiarism. Some, according to the article, even think giving students a heads-up on exam topics is a gray area. Are study guides cheating?
In the case of the Hanover students, nine of the 10 involved were 17-year-olds and therefore charged as adults. As a result, stealing a high school math test may be a permanent imprint on their criminal record. These were the ones who admitted their guilt. Of the 50 involved, those who did not admit their participation received no charges. Many of their parents told them to keep quiet. Is that cheating?