Michael Josephson, president of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, said: "The evidence is that a willingness to cheat has become the norm." (Josephson Institute of Ethics, 2002 Report Card: The Ethics of American Youth, p. 1)
The findings of this 2002 report are staggering. Some other statistics are:
- Theft: 38% of high school students admit that they stole something from a store in the past 12 months.
- Lying: 93% of young people admit to lying to their parents in the last year.
- Despite the high proportion of students who admitted cheating, stealing, and lying in the past year . . . 76% said, "When it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know."
- In addition, though many engaged in untrustworthy behavior, the students indicated that trust was very important: 95% agreed, "It's important to me that people trust me." (Josephson Institute of Ethics, 2002 Report Card: The Ethics of American Youth, pp. 3-6)
This report provides an idea of the challenges of Growing Faith-Filled Kids in our country today. With such findings, what are parents and teachers to do? How are we to go about our vocation to raise our children morally? What, even, is "morality"? What does it mean to be a "moral person"? How do parents and teachers raise "moral" children?
It's safe to say that the students surveyed by the Josephson Institute knew that stealing, lying, and cheating are wrong. Yet, for some reason, they choose to do so anyway. For some reason there is a disconnect. The students even mentioned in the survey that they knew their parents wanted them to "do the right thing, no matter what." (p. 6)
As parents and teachers, it's not enough that our students "know the good" yet choose not to live it. We desire that they will also "love the good," and "do the good." Helping our students grow in grace, faith, and love to become virtuous, faith-filled individuals requires that we ask ourselves some key questions:
- How does the type of behavior described in the survey develop?
- What will it take to help children translate their knowledge of right and wrong into a love of right, which causes them to choose right over wrong?