Teaching Character in NYC Schools

Dear Dr. Darcy:

I go to a private school in NYC and part of our creed is honor and honesty.  I’ve been in this school since pre-k and I’m now in 10th grade.  A few days ago I watched two of my friends cheat on a test. One was showing the other her answers.  This may sound ‘normal’ to you but it doesn’t happen in my school.  Ever.  I haven’t told anyone about this and now I can’t sleep. It’s been 2 nights and I don’t think it’s going to get better.  I’m so torn.  I can’t imagine reporting them but the way my school is set up, anyone who knows about a situation like this and doesn’t come forward is also held responsible/consequenced.  Dr. Darcy, please HELP!


And that’s why your parents pay the big bucks to send you to your school.  I’m sorry that you haven’t been sleeping, but you’re right ~ it’s so normal in public schools to see kids cheating on tests that I suspect today’s post will be a low-traffic day for AskDrDarcy as my followers yawn through this post.  Nonetheless, your question isn’t really about kids cheating on a test – it’s about tapping into your moral compass to determine how to handle the situation.

Let me ask you this:  If the one friend showed the other friend her answers in the middle of class, isn’t her behavior essentially putting the entire class in a compromised position?  At what point does protecting yourself take a priority? Historically, how well do you protect yourself?  Do you often find yourself in situations where meeting your needs are at odds with meeting someone else’s? Answer these questions and you’ll begin to see yourself leaning in a direction…

I work with many private schools in Manhattan and most have systems set up so that kids can anonymously report things like this.  Go to your school’s website and see if there’s something in place.  If not, make up a new email address (IDontWantToBeIdentified@gmail.com) and send in an email to whomever students would report this type of thing to.  Then, print a copy of the sent email & put it somewhere safe. Worst case scenario, if the school ever finds out that you knew about the cheating episode and you’re accused of failing to report it, you’ll have a paper trail of having submitted the email.

Writer’s Stats: Female, bi.