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Ask a high school or college student about cheating, and before you can finish the sentence, the person will blurt out two things: "Everybody does it," and "It's no big deal." Survey statistics back up the first statement, and the lack of serious consequences and lax enforcement of academic integrity policies in schools support the second. Not only is cheating on the rise nationally - a 2005 Duke University study found that 75 percent of high school students admit to cheating, and if you include copying another person's homework, that number climbs to 90 percent - but there has also been a cultural shift in who cheats and why. An upper-middle-class senior at an East Bay private high school, whom I'll call Sarah (who like many high school and college students I interviewed insisted on anonymity), sums it up succinctly: "There's so much pressure to get a good job, and to get a good job you have to get into a good school, and to get into a good school, you have to get good grades, and to get good grades you have to cheat." In a landmark survey of nearly 5,300 high school athletes conducted in 2005 and 2006 by the Josephson Institute of Ethics in Los Angeles, 65 percent admitted to cheating in the classroom more than once in the previous year, as opposed to 60 percent of nonathletes, a percentage that institute founder Michael Josephson says is statistically significant. Athletes in the high-profile male sports such as football, baseball and basketball are more willing to cheat than other athletes. Is there no conscience operating? Because without a conscience, you have Enron. How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids, says it's worrisome that the highest-performing kids in high school have few qualms about cheating. Endemic in collegeThe pressure to succeed at all costs has boosted cheating levels in college to record levels also. Because you feel: From her research, Pope is well aware of the widespread use by high school and college student of the drugs Adderall and Ritalin, normally prescribed to kids diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. Students without the disorder find them easy to obtain legally (college students often use the phrase "I'm having a little trouble focusing" at the campus health center to get a prescription) or illegally from students sharing their prescription or selling pills for profit. The students are instructed to turn each paper in to the service, which uses a computer program to scan it for instances of plagiarism by comparing it against all published materials and previously submitted papers in the company's database. According to the company, significant levels of plagiarism appear in 30 percent of papers submitted. In the morning at a high school, you see a ton of kids sitting around copying each other's homework. Because a percentage of their grade is based on their turning in their homework. The adults are doing it With examples of cheating ever-present in the news - the BALCO scandal, point shaving by an NBA ref, grade changing at Diablo Valley College; and frequent examples of cheaters in at the highest levels of the corporate world, Washington and Hollywood escaping harsh penalties - many suggest kids learn to cheat from the larger culture. People who answer that affirmatively - and just under 50 percent of the whole sample of high school students answers that affirmatively, and half of the males - are more likely, the correlation shows, to cheat. In the late 1960s, if you were a CEO and you inflated the value of your company's stock by cooking the books, maybe you'd make a couple of extra million dollars when your stock holdings went up. If a top baseball player took performance-enhancing drugs 20 years ago and hit more home runs, maybe he'd make $1 million a year, which is how much the top players got paid in the mid- to late 1980s. Callahan says the two other things that account for the rise in cheating are lack of oversight and enforcement (as in deregulation in business and lack of serious consequences for violations in business, politics and the academic world) and a change in American culture, ushered in the 1980s with "greed is good" individualism and a shredding of the social contract. In that cultural context, it's not surprising that people are willing to cut corners to advance their own self-interest. [...] even if kids are not aware of cheating scandals like Enron, says Pope, "they are absolutely influenced by the role models they see close to them." [...] when they see their parent go "diagnosis shopping" to get a doctor to say they have ADD so they can have extra time to complete their SAT test, or they hear a coach tell them to fake an injury in football when their team is out of time-outs to gain an unofficial one, kids get the message that it's OK, even necessary, to do take whatever steps to gain an advantage. Instilling a Sense of Integrity in Your Child with Mike Riera, head of Oakland's Redwood Day School. Because so many of these kids are cheating to please their parents - to get a grade, to get into college, whatever. The 100 or so academic integrity cases I dealt with in 20 years as a high school English teacher and in two years as a vice principal in charge of disciplinary matters showed how desperate kids are to please their parents and help their friends. Don't give the same test over and over again, separate kids so they don't see each other's papers, make it clear to students that it is unacceptable, have them sign a document that says they haven't cheated and punish cheaters. Josephson's institute has worked with thousands of schools across the country to implement his Character Counts! framework for character education, which has reduced cheating in those schools. The solution is in the voluntary commitment of the school system and the people who run it, the boards of education and the parents to say this is not acceptable. -- Cell phone cheating - text-messaging answers to another student, taking a picture of the test and e-mailing it to another student, or downloading information from the Internet