Plagiarism and Ethics…What are they?

By: Taylor Voight

From Newspapers to video documentaries, Ethics has become a major role in our lives today, creating order in the world of chaos. Unfortunately all across the world, Plagiarism is being commonly committed by unmindful students.

With technology  improvements increasing, the number of technology resources in schools increase with them. According to The New York Times website, seventy- one percent of students, in grades sixth through twelfth, with internet access expressed that they depend on electronic technology to work on homework or finish a project. These outcomes predict students more likely to commit plagiarism than ever before. However this problem can be easily solved through the determination of our teachers, and the will of our students. Of course it wasn’t always this way, up until the seventeenth century individuals words were simply out there. No one really thought about what it meant to “borrow” them. The word “Plagiary” didn’t actually come up until a man by the name of Ben Johnson used it. It became clear that Plagiarism was a big deal, and it finally became a crime in the eighteenth century. Without this big moment in history our world today would be a battle for our own words.

Ethics gives us the requirements we need to stay in order. I believe that by teaching students these requirements we can lower the amount of expulsions due to plagiarism. Unless you’re intentionally violating this crime, it would be pretty hard for students to perpatrate defamation. However it can be extremely easy for a person to commit slander or libel; by saying false statements that are potentially a misrepresentation of your source, you could land yourself in a heap of mess. Not only do you have false information, but you have violated a law in a matter of seconds. Another one to watch out for would be obscenity. We can all get a little opinionated at times, but by expressing bad or otherwise harmful words about another’s thoughts could be just as bad. A most commonly known category of ethics would be copyright. Almost every student has been told to watch out for copyright, but you would be surprised how many students don’t actually know what this means. I should know because as a student myself I never quite knew what copyright was until this year. Would I have been more careful if I had known in middle school? Absolutely!

Students should be taught the importance of Ethics in the beginning of their middle school lives, so that by the time they are in college, it becomes a basic survival skill to them. The most perfect example comes from the U.S News website, where it states a student from Ohio University was suspended for plagiarism towards Wikipedia. However this student had no idea she had done a wrong doing, so when ask to come up-front about it, she could only reply with confusion. We can help prevent this from happening to more students hoping to graduate college. We can teach children about censorship and fair use. We can teach it all.  It simply takes a week of class time, and a whole lot of practice.

By teaching students these things and how to avoid these situations we can reduce plagiarism not only in schools, but throughout the world as well, because who’s a better teacher for the future than our very own next generation.


  • Brynn, K. (2002, July 8). When Did Plagiarism Become a Crime? Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  • Reuters. (2001, September 2). Internet Helps With Homework. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  • Go, A. (2008, August 14). Two Students Kicked off Semester at Sea for Plagiarism. Retrieved September 18, 2015.