Plagiarism and dishonesty in childhood are serious problems possibly leading to long-term consequences for a child’s moral development, academic performance, and future credibility.
Plagiarism is a word that most of us associate with academic or professional misconduct, such as copying someone else’s work, ideas, or words without giving proper credit.
However, plagiarism is not something that suddenly emerges in adulthood, but rather has its roots in childhood. This is when we first learn about honesty, integrity, and responsibility. Plagiarism and dishonesty in childhood are very serious and have terrible implications for a child’s future.
Why do children plagiarise and cheat? What are the factors that influence their behaviour and decisions? And what can we do to prevent and correct this problem?
In this article, we will explore these questions and provide some tips and suggestions for parents, teachers, and students.
Causes of Plagiarism in Childhood
There are many possible causes of plagiarism and dishonesty in childhood, but we will focus on three of the most common ones:
1. Pressure to Succeed
One of the main reasons why children plagiarise and cheat is because they feel pressured to succeed, either by themselves, their parents, their peers, or their teachers.
They may have unrealistic or excessive expectations of themselves, or they may face high demands and standards from others. They may also fear failure, rejection, or punishment if they do not perform well. As a result, they resort to plagiarism and cheating as a way of coping with stress, anxiety, and insecurity.
2. Lack of Understanding
Another reason why children plagiarise and cheat is because;
- They do not fully understand what plagiarism and cheating are, why they are wrong, and how to avoid them.
- They may not know how to properly cite sources, paraphrase, summarize, or quote.
- They may not know how to distinguish between common knowledge and original ideas.
- They may not know how to use online tools and resources ethically and responsibly.
- They may also, not know the consequences and implications of plagiarism and cheating, both for themselves and others.
3. Inadequate Education on Academic Integrity
A third reason why children plagiarise and cheat is because of the following reasons;
- They do not receive adequate education on academic integrity, either at home or at school.
- Zero knowledge about the values and principles of honesty, fairness, respect, and responsibility that underlie academic integrity.
- They may not learn about the skills and strategies of research, writing, and critical thinking that support academic integrity.
- Lack of knowledge of the policies and procedures of academic integrity that govern academic work.
- They may also not learn about the benefits and rewards of academic integrity, both for themselves and for society.
Effects of Plagiarism in Childhood
Plagiarism and dishonesty in childhood can have negative effects on a child in the following ways:
1. Moral Development
Plagiarism and dishonesty in childhood can hinder a child’s moral development, as they can erode a child’s sense of right and wrong, self-esteem, and self-respect.
They can also damage a child’s relationships with others, such as parents, teachers, and peers, causing distrust, resentment, and conflict. Moreover, they can harm a child’s character and reputation, as they can lead to a loss of integrity, honour, and dignity.
2. Academic Performance
These factors can impair a child’s academic performance, as they can prevent a child from learning, growing, and improving.
They can also limit a child’s creativity, originality, and curiosity, as they can discourage a child from exploring, discovering, and expressing their ideas and opinions.
Furthermore, they can expose a child to academic penalties, such as lower grades, failed assignments, disciplinary actions, or even expulsion.
3. Future Credibility
Plagiarism and dishonesty in childhood can jeopardise a child’s future credibility, they can affect a child’s chances of success and happiness in life. They can also undermine a child’s trustworthiness, reliability, and professionalism, as they can make a child appear dishonest, lazy, and incompetent.
Additionally, they can endanger a child’s career and reputation, as they can result in legal, ethical, or social problems, such as lawsuits, sanctions, or scandals.
Solutions for Plagiarism in Childhood
Plagiarism and dishonesty in childhood are serious problems, but they are not inevitable or irreversible. There are many possible solutions for plagiarism and dishonesty in childhood, but we will suggest three of the most effective ones:
1. Reducing Pressure
One of the ways to prevent and correct plagiarism and dishonesty in childhood is to reduce the pressure that children feel to succeed, either from themselves or from others. This can be done by;
- Setting realistic and reasonable goals and expectations.
- Providing positive and constructive feedback and encouragement.
- Emphasising effort and improvement rather than grades and outcomes.
- Fostering a supportive and cooperative learning environment.
- Promoting a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
2. Increasing Understanding.
Another way to prevent and correct plagiarism and dishonesty in childhood is to increase the understanding that children have of plagiarism and cheating, why they are wrong, and how to avoid them. This can be done by;
- Explaining the definition and examples of plagiarism and cheating.
- Discussing the reasons and consequences of plagiarism and cheating
- Demonstrating the proper ways of citing sources, paraphrasing, summarising, and quoting.
- Teaching the skills of research. writing, and critical thinking.
- Providing the tools and resources for ethical and responsible online use.
3. Enhancing Education
A third way to prevent and correct plagiarism and dishonesty in childhood is to enhance the education that children receive on academic integrity, either at home or at school. This can be done by;
- Introducing the values and principles of academic integrity.
- Developing the policies and procedures for academic integrity.
- Enforcing the rules and regulations of academic integrity.
- Rewarding the examples and models of academic integrity.
- Creating a culture and community of academic integrity.
Plagiarism and dishonesty in childhood are a dangerous duo that can have serious and lasting effects on a child’s moral development, academic performance, and future credibility.
However, they can also be prevented and corrected by reducing pressure, increasing understanding, and enhancing education on academic integrity.
By doing so, we can help children develop into honest, fair, respectful, and responsible individuals who value and practice academic integrity, and who contribute to the advancement and well-being of society.
Researched by: Olamide Opebiyi