Academic Dishonesty: Prevention is Better than Cure

There is a need for educators and parents alike to intentionally focus attention on students from a young age to shape good character.

Best Practices May 13, 2021

Characters developed in youth, good or bad, grow with us and stay as long as we live. When such characters are bad, unacceptable, or unethical and continue unchallenged, they reach a level where they will be very hard to be corrected when one is old, if at all possible.

“Prevention is better than cure” is a well known expression used when talking about health. Preventing a disease protects one from getting sick. Classroom cheating has grown to an epidemic proportion because we gave it room to grow. But using one remedy—containing both a “cure” and a “vaccine”—which has been available to educators for years, we stop the spread. It needs to be taken daily and is most effective on children. This Bible-based education can inculcate God-prescribed behaviors in elementary school children that will make them better students in high school and college and, consequently, prevent many of the hard-to-correct bad habits we see in adults today.

There is a need to intentionally focus attention on elementary schools; a convenient stage in which children can be easily molded according to God’s liking. Each elementary school is a launching pad, after individual homes. If we let children leave home without forming their characters according to the Bible, it will be very hard to do so later as, according to an old Dutch proverb, “young twigs will bend but not old trees.” What Desiderius Erasmus rightly said centuries ago is still true today, “The main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth.”

George Barna (2013) also argues that “…if you want to shape a person’s life—whether you are more concerned about his or her moral, spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional or economic development—it is during these crucial eight years [5 to 12] that lifelong habits, values, beliefs and attitudes are formed” (p. 18). The author continues saying that “the most significant aspect of every person’s life is his or her spiritual health…” and “Every dimension of a person’s experience hinges on his or her moral spiritual condition” (p. 29). For Christians, Barna’s argument is an elaboration of “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

McCabe (2020) warns of an invisible line which is easy to cross saying, it is “unfortunate that the people who worry about cheating often contribute to it. Well-intentioned parents who want their children to be successful in school can place so much pressure on the kids that they resort to cheating.” At the same time Kennedy (2019) reminds us that “an involved parent is a powerful weapon against cheating.” Blackmer (2008) asserts, “the most vital outcome [of education] is not the prestige of the college attended, the degree earned, or the salary achieved. It’s whether our children are standing beside us as parents, pastors, and teachers at the foot of the cross.” 

Thus, if we take good care of children we will be preparing a more responsible and well-behaved generation and so we will be preventing, or at least minimizing, bad practices we experience in academia—and on the job—today.


Athanase Rutebuka

Rutebuka has a PhD in Educational Administration and Supervision – Andrews University. He served as Interim President of Ethiopia Adventist College (2013-2015), Africa. Associate Professor; currently serving as Head of the Department of Management. Is author of "School Violence and Unspoken Messages to Children: The Remedy Is In Your Hands" (2001) and "My Story" (2010), a book that tells the story of a church established and developed under difficult circumstances.

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