Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Parental Dilemma: Poll

Your thirteen year old child (A) has a book report due on Monday. The report can be on any age-appropriate book that the child has read for the report. Your child, being a bit of a bookworm, finishes his book in one day and writes his or her report.

Your child has a friend in school (B) who is not so much of a bookworm. B doesn't like to read and is not the best student in the class. Not the worst, certainly, but not the best.

On Sunday night (remember, the report is due on Monday afternoon) you realize that A has not only done his or her report, but was about to do B's report as well. The child denies it, but the evidence pretty well points to the fact that your child was about to do two reports. The child's reply is that all they were doing was acting as a typing service, and getting paid one dollar for that.

On Monday night, you find out that your teacher gave B an extension of one day. You also figure out that your child has written another report anyway during the school day and brought it home to type. The evidence that B had nothing to do with the report is overwhelming: the handwritten report is in A's handwriting; the book the report was being done on was a book that A gave B *that morning*, the fact that the style of report was almost word-for-word the same as A's report. Again, A thinks that s/he's smarter than his/her parents and denies everything. He types up the report and puts it in his folder for school tomorrow.

What do you do?

Before you vote, keep these things in mind:
A's parents and B's parents are friends. They have known each other a long time.
In addition A's father went to Beis Midrash with the teacher and knows him for some time as well.
A and B are friends, have been together in class since pre-1A.

I'm curious how others would have handled this.

The Wolf


Anonymous said...

First, to avoid this kind of situation, I would lay out general guidelines that state that your child cannot do any school work for pay, including "typing." Every aspect of what a child hands in should be their own, particularly by age 13.
Second, it's clear that you do not believe your child's denials. I would tell my child that, because of what I see, I feel that I must discuss this with child B's parents, and perhaps with the teacher as well. And while I would certainly discuss this with B's parents, I might wait to discuss it with the teacher depending on the child's reaction. That is, if the answer changes, or your child decides not to hand over the work to the other child, I might not discuss it with the teacher.
It's difficult to learn that your friends will be held accountable for their actions - or inaction - and your child has to learn that this kind of help is not helpful.
My daughter, who is in 9th grade, forgot about a project while she was busy with rehearsals for the school play, and asked me call the teacher. I told her that I couldn't do that, and that she needed to ask the teacher for an extension. In the end, she had the due date wrong and had enough time, but I felt that she needed to learn to be responsible for herself.

Anonymous said...

Do not let A off the hook. He (or She) must tell the other child that he will not do the work for him. Let him stand up in his community and show that he will not give in to peer pressure. Then support in A in the possibly difficult task he must now perform.

If the parents get involved, it effectively lets A off the hook.

Ezzie said...

I think the first and most important step is calling the other parents, particularly if they're friends. They surely wouldn't want their child doing your child's work, either... and want their child to learn, not spend extra money of theirs on education they're not getting.

At the same time, the speech on honesty is a must as well - both hiding what he was doing and being paid to do others' work.

And you can definitely get way more than a buck. Time to teach some economics...! Heck, if I were B's parents, I'd compliment my kid on at least getting someone to do my stuff for so cheap. Geez.

Anonymous said...

I answered the poll. But I would have told B's parents the first night, so they could have made B do the work during the extension.

Also I would have confiscated the fake report openly, not secretly.

Reb Yudel said...

Trying to bamboozle you, the parent, turns this from a misdemeanor into a felony. I admire the impulse behind the offer to help a friend for a below-market rate; but lying to you is worth far more than a dollar.

The kid deserves more than a talking-to; you may have found him out the first time he thought he fooled you, but then again, he may have succeeded in hoodwinking you several times already. Ultimately, that's what kefel is all about.

I would try to think of a week-long punishment, such as grounding, so you can remind the child that s/he has put your trust, and your relationship, at risk.

And given that you are friends with B's parents, I would tell them too... ultimately, you would want to be told if your kid was hiring a ghostwriter, wouldn't you?

Anonymous said...

there are 2 issues that need to be dealt with. First and foremost - lying to you. This is a serious one and should be address as such. Both of A's parents need to be involved in this discusssion and then some sort of consequences needs to be given, consequence should be decided by both parents earlier. It's too easy to get upset and say something rash, no computer for the year, in the heat of the moment.

as this is a school mattter, you might let A know that he's runnning the risk of zero, when the teacher realizes that he wrote both papers. Some creative teachers have the kids split the grade; hence both fail the assignment. A then must decide if it's worth the risk.

Involving the other parent is dubious. No teenager wants his parents talking to another teens parents, let alone a good friend's parents. This approach may backfire and may result in both boys forming a united front against both sets of parents, assuming that Bs are willing to give consequences for his actions. not sure this will happen . Also this may have gone on all year and this is just the first time that you're aware of.

Welcome to teenagers! It's amazing what they come up with. I teach HS and have grave trepidation for when my own kids hit this age. To some extent ignorance can be bliss, certainly less gray hairs that way. Good Luck.
(Google isn't taking the password;Sorry)

Orthoprax said...


I'm no parent, but the first thing I would do is give kid A a strong talking to and reason with him to understand why what he's doing is wrong - especially in regard to lying which makes it all the more worse because it means he knows you wouldn't approve.

Only if that doesn't seem to do the job then I would start with some disciplinary action.

I also believe that it is _not_ a good idea to get the teacher involved because ideally you want your kid to come to you if he ever has problems in school so he can always feel like your on his side against 'the enemy.'

It also is the _wrong_ idea to secretly take away the report. Being disingenuous with your kid sends the wrong message. If you don't approve of the report then take it from him openly.

Calling kid B's parents or talking to him directly may or may not be a good idea depending on the kid and the parents and their relationship with you and your kid, but generally I wouldn't recommend too much overbearing involvement in your kid's life. He'll feel stifled and trapped. And forcing him to stop by obstructing the relationship keeps him from forming the moral autonomy that you'd want him to develop.

Tzipporah said...

Wow - I agree with anonymous, above, that lying to you is a pretty big problem, and the one where he has transgressed against you.

However, while I said "talk about honesty" I would tackle the bad assumption A is making: that his work is "helping" is friend. I'd give him a lecture on not putting a stumbling block before the blind, and ask him to think of what B is learning in the long-term from A's "help" - that books are boring, or reading books/doing assignments is only for "smart" kids. Is this really a lesson A wants B to learn?

But talking to the other parents is essential.

Warren Burstein said...

Let's make it more interesting - you call B's parents and they agree that this is terrible, they gave B $10 for to buy a book report, and now it turns out he's pocketed half of it.