A call that your teenager was caught cheating is hard to interpret as anything but bad news. But you can turn the incident into a learning experience — and maybe even a turning point.
In a recent poll of more than 2,000 students and parents, Common Sense found that many teens aren't clear about what constitutes cheating. Twenty-three percent, for example, said storing notes on a phone to access during a test is not cheating, and 19 percent said downloading a paper from the Internet to turn in as your own is not cheating.
Which brings us to expert tip No. 1.
1. Define cheating. Refer to the school's guidelines on the use of electronics, and lay out your own guidelines, too, Perle says: "Parents have to spell out: Sending another kid an answer or getting an answer from another kid? Cheating. Lifting material wholesale and plopping it down in your paper? Cheating. Be very clear about what is acceptable and what is not."
5. Survey the landscape. Consider if your child is receiving mixed messages about honesty. "Let's say you have an older child who just applied to college and you wrote all those essays," says Powell-Lunder. "Maybe you were in the grocery store with your kid and they gave you incorrect change and you didn't say anything. This certainly isn't to suggest you taught your kid how to cheat, but we have to be aware of the very subtle ways that small things can be interpreted."