A Moral Dilemma 

Brendan was in Year 6 when he was caught cheating in his maths exam. He had been doing poorly in maths and his parents had threatened that if he didn’t raise his grades they wouldn’t let him play on the local netball team. So he cheated. When the teacher asked him about it, he denied it at first, but finally admitted to writing down the answers ahead of time.

A meeting was called at school and Brendan had to sit with his parents, his Maths teacher, and the Head of Year to discuss the school policy on cheating and lying. On the way home, his father told Brendan he was deeply disappointed in him and expected more from him in the future. That night, Brendan felt like the whole world was against him, but he also felt guilty for letting his parents down.

That weekend, Brendan and his family went to a movie. When they got to the ticket window Brendan’s dad asked for children’s tickets for both Brendan and his 16 year old brother. Brendan looked over at his brother, who stared down at the sidewalk and hunched his shoulders hoping the ticket seller wouldn’t notice that he was well above the age for a child’s ticket. The ticket seller glanced suspiciously back and forth between the father and the brother, and then, with a doubtful look on her face, she handed them the the two child’s tickets. This happened every time they went to the movies, and it always made Brendan feel weird.

On the way home from the movie, Brendan asked his father why it was okay to lie and cheat the theater out of money but not to cheat on his math quiz. His dad responded that sometimes its okay to lie as long as nobody gets hurt.

The rest of the way home Brendan just got more and more confused. Cheating on his test hurt nobody. He didn’t steal the answers from any of the other students. If he hadn’t gotten caught, he would have been praised.  How was what he did different from what his dad did over and over again? And should he continue to stay silent the next time his dad lied?  

Another Moral Dilemma 

Jeff and his best friend, Steven are in Year 12. They both go to different high schools. They’ve been friends since third grade, but since Jeff transferred to another school for Year 10, they’ve started to grow apart.

One Saturday, Steven asked Jeff if he would drive him into the nearest city. He didn’t have his license yet and said he thought it would be fun for them to hang out. Jeff felt uncomfortable saying yes because he’d only had his license for six months and his parents told him he wasn’t allowed to drive into the city yet. But, Steven said that he wouldn’t be able to go without Jeff’s help and they never got to see each other anymore. Jeff agreed and they left that afternoon after telling Jeff’s parents they were driving to another friend’s house.

When they got to the city, Steven asked Jeff to drive across town to a particular address. When they arrived, Steven asked Jeff to wait in the car while he ran inside for a few minutes. After Steven returned to the car Jeff asked what was going on and Steven pulled out a bag of white powder. He admitted it was his drug connection and that the powder was crystal meth. When Jeff asked him why he didn’t tell him that was why they came to the city. Steven said he didn’t tell him because he figured Jeff wouldn’t go.

That night Jeff couldn’t sleep because he felt overwhelmed by what he had found out. He knew meth was no good and that Steven would continue using it with or without his help. He was angry that Steven had put him in the position of driving with an illegal substance, but even more importantly, he was worried about his friend.

Jeff had promised Steven he wouldn’t tell anyone about all this but it was driving him crazy. He had a teacher at school he really liked and trusted. He wanted to go to him and ask his advice. But what if the teacher decided to turn in his best friend? Jeff was torn about how best to protect Steven.