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Our young people don't know right from wrong.

In the eyes of youth, honesty may not be the best policy and cheaters always prosper. That's according to a two-year study of young people and adults by the Joseph and Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics.

"There's a hole in the moral ozone, and it is probably getting bigger," says Michael Josephson, president of the Institute. There is significant evidence, he says, that the present 15- to 30-year-old generation is more likely to engage in dishonest and irresponsible conduct than previous generations. But, he says, "whether things are worse or not, they are clearly bad enough."

This study shows beyond question that an exceptionally high number of young people act dishonestly or irresponsibly. Many steal, lie and cheat on the job, in school and in their personal relationships.

The survey's findings are based on a 100-page survey of 8,965 young people between the ages of 15 and 30 from across the country. Most had middle- and upper-middle-class backgrounds, and attended public, private and religious high schools and colleges.

More than one-third of all high school and college students said they would lie on a resume or job application to get a job, and 16 percent of the high school students and 18 percent of the collegians said they already had done so at least once. Twenty-one percent of college students said they would falsify a report if it was necessary to keep their job. Thirty-nine percent of the college students said they lied to their boss, and 35 percent said they lied to a customer within the past year. This isn't too surprising considering that this age group ranked "getting a job you enjoy" as their number one goal in life.

"As [these people] enter the workforce to do their jobs, whether they be teachers, politicians, bankers, business executives, mechanics, nuclear inspectors, journalists or generals, their penchant to get what they want (or avoid what they don't want) through improper means can create political, economic and environmental crises of unprecedented enormity," says the report.

In addition, 33 percent of all high school students and 16 percent of the college students admitted they had shoplifted, and 33 percent of high school students and 11 percent of college students admitted that they have stolen something from their parents or relatives at least once. More than four out of five high schoolers and three of five college students lied to their parents at least once in the past 12 months.

One in eight college students admits to engaging in each of following forms of fraud: inflating expense claims, lying to an insurance company, lying on financial aid forms and borrowing money with the intent of not paying it back.

Josephson doesn't entirely blame young people for their behavior, though. The survey points out that ethical conduct is heavily influenced by "a continuous barrage of bad examples" in society as well as a social system that "refuses to consistently impose negative consequences on bad behavior."
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Title Annotation:On First Reading; study finds youth more dishonest and irresponsible
Publication:State Legislatures
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Previous Article:States, feds, crack down on 'carjacking.' (Anti-Car-Theft Act of 1992) (On First Reading)
Next Article:The election in perspective.

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