Poll: U.S. Teens Say Cheating Widespread

ByABC News
April 28, 2004, 5:48 PM

April 29 -- Cheating in American high schools is widespread if not endemic. And it usually works.

That's the report card from American teenagers. In an exclusive ABCNEWS Primetime poll of 12- to 17-year-olds, seven in 10 say at least some kids in their school cheat on tests. Six in 10 have friends who've cheated. About one in three say they themselves have cheated, rising to 43 percent of older teens. And most say cheaters don't get caught.

That doesn't make it right in most students' eyes: Nearly all teens in this national, random-sample survey say cheating's wrong. Most who admit to cheating say it was a rare thing. And fewer than three in 10 say "most" or "a lot" of kids in their school cheat; 44 percent say it's just "some."

Still, though, 12 percent nearly one in eight say "most" kids in their school cheat on tests.

This poll was conducted to support an ABCNEWS Primetime special on cheating in school that airs Thursday, April 29, at 10 p.m. ET.


Who's more likely to cheat? The crowd teens hang out with is one factor: Those with friends who've cheated are more apt to be tempted, and actually to cheat, themselves.

Age is another. Older teens are more apt than younger ones to say a lot of kids at their school cheat, to have friends that cheat and to say they've been tempted to cheat. Among 12- to 14-year-olds, 23 percent admit cheating; that rises to 36 percent of kids age 15-17, and, as noted, peaks at 43 percent of those age 16-17.


Communication on the issue is in short supply: Just one-third of kids say they and their parents have had a serious talk about cheating in school. But it's not clear that it helps: Kids who have spoken about it with their parents are no less likely to have cheated, or been tempted to cheat, as those who haven't.

Still, those who are the most likely to say they've cheated kids age 16-17 are the least likely to say they've talked about the issue with their parents. Just 27 percent say they've done so, compared with 41 percent of 12-