Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jesse Prado - Ethics: an abstract ideal

The report card came back with disappointing results for the high school students of 2008. The survey on the Ethics of American Youth was given to 30,000 high school students by the Josephson Institute, and they say, “There is a hole in our moral ozone that is getting bigger.” Students are lying, cheating, and stealing, but this doesn’t surprise me much.

After corporal punishment as discipline was replaced with positive reinforcement, they lost control of these kids to the inflation of their own egos.

Kids started keeping it real, started acting on how they feel. Do what is right in your heart was the best advice they could give them because they couldn’t turn to the birch or cane when their kid was being a jerk. The laws changed and wouldn’t allow it. Kids lost that fear of their parents and with that left the respect. These days kids raise themselves, and according to this survey, most of them say they would rather do what’s right to them than do the right thing in general.

An alarming number of students who took the survey said that their parents would rather have them cheat than get bad grades in school. Whatever it takes to succeed, as sick and sad as that sounds. The kids are all on their own after high school. Sounds like a crowd of parents who want to get those kids out of their house.

Nobody taught them how to be.

How good of a role model are you? That’s the latest question on the Josephson Institutes new survey at their website www.josephsoninstitute.org. I tried it myself but it’s mainly for parents and teachers. Maybe they should check it out.

The founder of the Josephson Institute Michael Josephson said “what we need to learn from these survey results is that our moral infrastructure is unsound and in serious need of repair. This is not a time to lament or whine but to take thoughtful positive action.”

You can’t teach ethics to high school students.

Truth is, a person that can maintain a consistent code of ethics is rare. People will lie, cheat and steal depending on the circumstance; that’s human nature. Looking out for number one is all they’ve ever been told to do. It’s all they’ve ever seen. I know it’s all I’ve ever seen. That’s survival of the fittest. Ethics are an abstract ideal to the modern American.

According to this survey, it’s the last thing on anyone’s mind.

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