The next generation to enter the work force may be more likely to cheat and lie than their more senior colleagues, according to a recent survey.
Three-quarters of teenagers believe they are fully prepared to make ethical decisions, yet nearly 40 percent also believe that lying, cheating or violence are necessary to succeed, according to the survey conducted by Junior Achievement Worldwide.
More than half of those teens said their personal desire to succeed is the rationale. There were 23 percent who said violence toward another person is acceptable on some level.
The number of teens willing to bend the rules has more than doubled since the survey was conducted in 2003, according to Ainar Aijala, chairman of Junior Achievement Worldwide.
"Kids are seeing evidence of successful politicians, professional athletes, religious leaders, lawyers and business professionals being dishonest -- people they also see as their role models," Aijala said.
The results could be an indication of problems future employers may face.
"I think what this says is that employers will over time need to be more diligent in background checking," Aijala said.
The survey was conducted online with a sample of 725 teens ages 13 to 18.
We don't really get much of an indication about the quality of the sampling or research methods. I'm not one to poo-poo on-line surveys---some of the educational research I've been combing through for my doctoral work suggests that if properly constructed, web surveys are just as valid and reliable and paper ones. The organization (Junior Achievement Worldwide) appears to be legit...so I'll give them a big benefit of a doubt here on their methodology.
What I'm not so sure about is their conclusion that employers may need to be more diligent with background checks. Will this solve a gap in the ethics of potential employees? If nearly one-quarter of potential hires believes that violence toward someone else may be acceptable, how will hiring or not hiring these kids change their beliefs? What do we as educators do knowing that 40% of our students believe that lying and cheating are acceptable ways to "get ahead"?There has been a lot of talk in recent years about character education programs. Some say that it is not the province of the public schools to take this on---it is something which belongs within a family. Others say that since so many children are not being taught general expectations for societal behavior at home that the schools must step up to the plate. Either way, kids are going to be provided with both good and bad role models. Teachers can't stop celebrities or pro athletes from making some very public and very poor choices anymore than we can keep some of our peers from engaging in some questionable practices. While this doesn't absolve us of a responsibility to help educate and prepare students---what more should we be doing?