It’s been said, “Once a liar, always a liar.” Apparently, there’s a lot of truth to that simple proverb.
In October of 2009, The Josephson Institute of Ethics released their findings from a multi-generational study on character and integrity. They found that kids who tell lies today often become adults who tell lies tomorrow. (All things equal…that makes sense.) Further, they discovered that kids who cheat today usually grow to be adults who cheat when they’re older.
Their study involved 7,000 participants of various ages and focused on character-based habits that stretch from childhood into adulthood. According to researchers, a kid who cheats on a test is likely to grow up to be an adult who cheats a customer, inflates an expense claim, lies to their spouse, etc.
When teenagers (17 and under) were asked…
- about truth-telling, 31% said they were willing to deceive their boss.
- about honesty, 49% confessed their tendency to keep extra change given to them by accident.
- about ethics, 51% of them said lying and cheating were necessary to succeed.
In the same study, young adults (18-24 year olds) were also asked about their integrity. The findings were more of the same.
- 48% reported lying to a spouse/partner.
- 69% of young adults admitted to making illegal/unauthorized copies of music and/or videos.
- 14% confessed to misrepresenting themselves in a job interview.
Perhaps most telling about these findings is this: kids won’t argue that lying/cheating is wrong…just popular…and necessary.
In other words, they truly believe “everyone else is doing it.” If that were not bad enough, adherence to that idiom almost always leads to another forfeiture of character, “In order to keep up, I have to cheat, too.”
Teenagers are “normalizing” and defending what the Bible clearly calls sin. Centuries ago, Isaiah’s prophecy strongly warned against blurring the lines between sin and righteousness. Isaiah 5:20 reads
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
For the most part, teenagers and young people don’t fully understand the implications – or consequences – of their deceitful ways.
Somebody will have to tell them the truth.
Click here for online report.
Topics Illustrated Include:
(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)