Despite lessons they may have learned in kindergarten, 38 percent of teenagers think that you have to break the rules at school to succeed, according to a national poll conducted by Deloitte and Junior Achievement of 750 respondents (50 percent male and 50 percent female).
Rather than being the one result that stood out, other figures also pointed to vague beliefs among young adults about what is deemed as appropriate behavior. For example, 27 percent of teenagers indicated that behaving violently is sometimes or often acceptable, and 20 percent noted that they had personally behaved violently toward another person in the past year.
These results could be attributed to a lack of role models for ethical behavior in many young peoples’ lives, and is a disturbing indication of their future behavior. Forty-nine percent of those that reported they are ethically prepared believe that lying to parents and guardians is acceptable, and only 54 percent cited their parents as role models.
Many consider their own interests before those of peer or authority figures. Teenagers indicated feeling more accountable to themselves (86 percent) than to parents (52 percent), friends (41 percent), or society (33 percent).
Individuals who only feel accountable toward themselves will not be a good fit for any company culture in which the greater good is something which should be respected and worked toward.
Finally, only 25 percent said that they would be very likely to report unethical behavior in the workplace.
Many teenagers seem to be experiencing an attitude of ethical relativism, in which “the ends can justify the means,” and it’s important to instruct them otherwise before it’s too late.