Unwilling to do the work, or just plain laziness. Some students don’t want to put the time and effort into studying and learning. They take the easy way out by cheating. This may go hand-in-hand with the belief that cheating is “easy” and “no big deal,” and “everyone does it.”


Cheating in school may have consequences that are immediate, and some consequences may be long-term. For example, the student who gets caught cheating will – or at least should – feel an immediate response from his parents and the school. The punishment should vary depending on the age of the student or his school level, of course. After all, a fifth grader who sneaks a peek at a spelling word shouldn’t be punished as harshly as a high school student who plagiarizes a term paper.

Nonetheless, there should be some sort of immediate response, such as:

  • An automatic zero or “F” for the assignment, project, or test. If the student is given another chance to do the work without cheating, the final grade might be reduced as punishment for the cheating
  • Detention or some other form of school discipline that takes away some of the students after-school free time
  • Discipline at home, such as no after-school activities, no play time outside after school or on the weekends, no car, etc.
  • For serious or repeated instances of cheating, a student may be suspended from school for a few days or even expelled or “kicked-out” permanently

Whatever the consequences, the lesson to be learned by the student is that cheating IS a big deal and won’t be tolerated at school or at home.

What about long-term consequences? Is cheating on a math test really a life-changing event? Yes, it can be. Forget about the fact cheating may lead to a failing grade, which may mean summer school or repeating a whole grade level. If you think about it, a student who’s willing to cheat in grade school is likely to cheat in high school. A high school student who cheats may continue cheating in college.

Actions to Take

Everyone has role to play when it comes to stamping out cheating in school:

  • Schools need to have a tough policy on cheating so students think long and hard about whether to cheat on a test or assignment
  • Teachers and parents need to explain to their students exactly what cheating is
  • Teachers and parents need to be aware of how new technologies can be used to cheat cell phones in the school and about web sites showing students how to cheat and selling papers and other materials
  • Schools and teachers also need to understand that the old tried-and-true methods are still being used today. Crib notes, writing on shoes, watches with calculators, are just a few of the vintage ways of cheating
  • Parents need to stay involved with the student’s education. Talk about homework, tests and assignments and help with studies. Keep track of their assignments. If a big term paper or project is suddenly done in one day, you may need to do some investigating
  • Students need to understand that cheating isn’t the answer and that everyone isn’t doing it. They should also understand the consequences for cheating, both at home and at school

Questions for Your Attorney

  • If my child is caught cheating will it be on her permanent school record? Can we get it removed so doesn’t hurt her chances of getting into college?
  • My child was accused of cheating but I believe her when she says she didn’t cheat. The school wants to suspend her anyway. How can we stop it?
  • My child is being harassed and bullied by a student who blames my child for getting him caught cheating. The school won’t do anything to stop the bullying. What should I do?
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