Are the Coming Gen Y’ers a Bunch of Liars and Cheaters?


The future workforce is a few years away, but already, some observers are sending up warning flares that they’re slacking in ethical standards.

A recent survey by the Josephson Institute, a Los Angeles-based ethics-training center, revealed that lying, cheating and stealing are apparently prevalent among today’s high-school students. The survey studied nearly 30,000 students at public and private high schools nationwide.

Compared to a similar survey conducted in 2006, the latest poll, Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth, reveals a slight uptick of unethical behavior.

Among the findings:

* More than one in three boys (35 percent) reported stealing from a store within the past year; about one-quarter (26 percent) of girls admitted the same. In the previous survey, the results were slightly lower, at 32 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

* Nearly half of the boys (49 percent) and more than one-third of the girls (36 percent) reported lying to save money, compared to 47 percent and 31 percent, respectively, in the 2006 survey.

* A total of 83 percent of those in public schools and religious private schools said they lied to a parent about something significant. In addition, 26 percent confessed to lying on at least one of the questions on the survey.

* Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the respondents admitted to cheating on a test within the previous year, compared to 60 percent in the 2006 survey.

* Ironically, 93 percent reported that they were satisfied with their ethical behavior.

Michael Josephson, president and founder of the institute, says “the cheating data is chilling, but the theft data is stunning.”

While he doesn’t think the students have crossed the Rubicon and are doomed to a life of unethical behavior, Josephson cautions that businesses must infuse moral and ethical behavior into their culture — beyond tidy ethical statements — and spell out negative consequences for unethical behavior.

HT: Paul Gallagher

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