Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

There’s a lot of cheating going on in my school classes. I almost feel that if I don’t cheat too I won’t be able to compete. I’ve also heard that businessmen often have to bend the rules a little to survive. Don’t circumstances sometimes determine what’s right and wrong?

New Era

The answer is simple—don’t cheat. But this is sometimes more difficult to do when facing friends who are determined to cheat and want you to participate, or when it seems like everyone is doing it and you must to make a good grade.

You’ve heard the saying, If you cheat, you’re only hurting yourself. Cheating really does hurt you worst of all. If you cheat in school, you don’t learn as much as you could. And if you cheat in business, you will eventually lose the trust of those you work with.

In school, getting the best education you’re capable of is important. If you cheat instead of studying for your grades, all you get is trouble.

First, you will likely be found out. Then you must work extra hard to make up for losing the trust of your teachers and your parents. One young woman was very nervous about going to college. The first essay she turned in to her freshman English class was one she plagiarized (copied from another source). Her teacher recognized the essay she had copied from and confronted her. The student spent the rest of the semester trying to make up for her cheating. Even when she did well on an essay she wrote herself, her teacher was always a little suspicious.

Second, cheating takes away the satisfaction of doing well in your classes. Nothing will give you more confidence in your abilities than doing well in a class by studying hard. One young chemistry student found out that someone in his chemistry lab had the answer book for all the lab experiments they would be assigned that semester. It seemed like the whole class played around in the lab and then filled in the correct answers while he did his lab work without cheating. He was made fun of, but in the end, when the class was assigned individual projects for their final grade, he was way ahead because he had actually learned the things he was supposed to have learned.

Third, and perhaps most important, cheating damages your spirit. When you are in tune with the promptings of the Holy Ghost, it is fairly easy to tell right from wrong. But each time you cheat or lie or cover up errors, you start to believe your rationalizations. You begin to think that there really are good reasons for you to cheat or to bend the rules in your case. But no matter how you fool yourself, it doesn’t make it right. And the cost to your spirit is high. Your ability to hear the promptings of the still, small voice telling you right from wrong will diminish. You can become spiritually numb, as it says in 1 Nephi 17:45, “Ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words.” [1 Ne. 17:45]

The things you learn about being honest in schoolwork apply to the business world as well. As you move into the working world, if you give good honest value in services and products for the money paid you, then you can truly say that you deal honestly with your fellowmen.

Readers

What counts is that you know you did the right thing even under pressure. Even though you may think nobody else noticed that you stood up for your beliefs, our Heavenly Father will.

Rebecca Malouf, 12 Manhattan, Kansas

The answer you require will not come from anyone but yourself. Many questions such as this will pop up in your life. The way you are going to answer these questions is by listening to your heart. The gift of the Holy Ghost is always there for you.

Elder Curtis Bates, 19 Utah Ogden Mission

I graduated from high school last year and now attend college. It has been a real challenge at times, but I am enjoying it. Yet, for many others around me, college is a nightmare. Although they had the ability to cheat in high school, the only thing they were cheating on was their education. What happens then when you are expected to already know certain things upon entering college, but you don’t know them because you cheated?

Michael Christensen, 18 Roseville, California

I’m a Russian girl, and I should say that we also have lots of cheating in our school classes. I also cheated before because everybody did. But now I know the Church, and I know it was bad to cheat. I now know that a lie is always a lie, and our Heavenly Father doesn’t want us to lie and cheat. Don’t pay attention to everybody’s cheating. Be above it. If you study only for the sake of competition, it won’t bring you real knowledge.

Valerie Zhimskaya, 16 Vyborg, Russia

Not long ago, I had an experience with cheating. Like you, I felt unable to compete, and so I gave in little by little until I rationalized myself into thinking I wasn’t really cheating at all. I have never been more embarrassed than when my teacher informed me that she wasn’t counting my test. But that was just the beginning. I then had to admit to myself and to my parents that what I had been doing was cheating. It took me the rest of the year to regain that teacher’s trust as well as my parents’.

Don’t take that first step because it gets easier every time. Remember my experience. No amount of success is worth the heartache of not liking yourself.

Name withheld

I feel a lot better about myself when I work hard and honestly for something. Also, no matter the circumstances, your heart will tell you the right thing to do.

Julie Alford, 14 Brandon, Florida

Please don’t let anyone influence you in your decision. If you know in your heart that it’s the wrong thing to do, don’t do it, because our Heavenly Father gave us the ability to know right from wrong.

Darlene Casaus, 20 Santee, California

What if your title was John Doe, the Cheater, and you only cheated once? What if that name traveled with you through life and then forever? What decision would you make then? I wouldn’t cheat even if I knew I was failing. Remember, those who give others the answers cheat too.

Jesse Crockett Istanbul, Turkey

It’s the same everywhere. Did you get your assignment done? Let me copy. You think to yourself, I’m not cheating.

I’ve learned one thing. It’s not worth it. You are only cheating yourself. There are consequences to everything.

Laura Spencer, 14 St. George, Utah

Cheating at school is practically expected where I live. But I still live up to my standards and am respected for it. And you will be too.

I can tell you this because one guy was mad at me because I wouldn’t let him cheat off my test. He didn’t like me for a long time. But at the end of the year, he was able to joke about it. Be an example and others will follow. When you get depressed about things like this, pray. It truly helps.

Peggy Dyer, 15 Evergreen, Colorado

If you decide to cheat now in school, you may be one step closer to cheating in other areas along the path of life. You may lose respect from your friends and, more importantly, for yourself. You don’t need to cheat to survive. Be an achiever on your own.

Jeanette Easter, 23 Calgary, Alberta, Canada

We live in a competitive world, and sometimes you may feel that the only way to survive is to cheat. That’s just not so! It’s not worth it. Not only will your conscience eat you up, but your test scores will show that you have cheated. Besides that, what will you learn?

Troy Whittle, 16 Chattaroy, Washington

We, as Latter-day Saint youth, cannot give in to this temptation because we know the difference between right and wrong and we are examples to those around us. I know that the blessings from not cheating are far greater than any grade on a test.

Erin Cooper, 16 Wuerzburg, Germany

[photo] Photography by Craig J. Moyer