June 2, 2018


What’s up, Brandon!

My classmates think I’m a brainiac, so they try to copy my homework. They also beg this other kid for answers and she always caves in and gives them, which makes me look like a jerk whenever I don’t. What should I do?

Hassled About Homework

Hey Hassled About Homework,

Okay, that sounds super annoying. I’d say I’m medium smart, but I have to admit I’m not so smart that people are usually begging to copy my answers. But I’ve seen it happen. And I wouldn’t copy someone’s answers, but I have definitely asked if I could check my answers with someone else. Just being totally honest.

I’m going to guess that you’re not only smart, but you actually do the work. Like, just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you automatically know everything. When you get an assignment, you have to put the work in. When you have a test, you have to study. At the very least, you’ve done a good job paying attention in class.

So it’s super unfair for someone to skip all the work and think it’s no big deal to just take advantage of you. Or maybe they do realize it’s a big deal, but some kids face a LOT of pressure from their parents, and even though they might not feel good about it, they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get good grades. That’s no excuse, though. And it’s a TOTAL bummer if they act like you’re uncool or mean or whatever by not handing over your hard work.

Because the thing is, what you’re describing is cheating. A lot of kids think of cheating as, like, stealing answers during a test. But they tell themselves that copying homework answers, or even plagiarizing papers from the internet, is just “working the system” or “doing what everyone else does”. But it IS cheating.

Your school probably has strict anti-cheating policies, but I’m not going to tell you to report them to your teacher, because I know that could make you look a lot worse to your peers than refusing to share your answers. But you COULD talk to a teacher or guidance counselor and ask them to create a system where students could anonymously report cheating.

If classmates are asking to copy from you during class, maybe you could ask your teacher to let you sit in the very front of the class and/or near the teacher’s desk. It would probably make people less likely to try to cheat off you during class. But I know there’s also a lot of homework copying that happens in the halls or during lunch.

In that case, or if your teacher won’t move you, I think you can be simple and firm and consistent when people ask to copy off of you. You don’t have to give reasons. You can just say, “No.” If it’s an appropriate time (like not in the middle of a test) you could offer to show them how to do it, if they need help. (And if you feel like giving help—but you don’t OWE anyone your help.) If they push for a reason why you’re not giving them answers, you could say, “I don’t want to get caught cheating, and giving answers is cheating too.”

Will some people be annoyed? Sure. But probably they’ll eventually stop coming to you. And people who are going to dislike you because you won’t help them cheat aren’t really people you want for friends anyway, right?

As for the other smart kid who always gives the answers, I can see how that makes you look bad, but I can think of a few reasons they might do that. They might just not want the hassle of upsetting people by saying no. Some people really don’t like confrontation. They might hope they’re going to fit in or make friends by sharing answers. They might genuinely think they’re being helpful. OR they might think about it in the long run and figure it’s not their problem if the cheaters never really learn the material.

Because that’s the thing—people can copy homework answers all they want. There’ll eventually be a time they can’t cheat, like a carefully monitored test, and they’re not going to know how to do it on their own. And then they’ll have to face the consequences.

I hope this helps. And maybe you’ll get some more ideas about how to handle it in the comments.

How do you handle it when someone wants to copy off of your homework? Do you consider that cheating? Tell us down below!