Dear Abby: Teen loses faith as classmates cheat, get away with it

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DEAR ABBY: My son attends an excellent public high school and has done very well. His class is scheduled to graduate in a few weeks, and “Brent” has been accepted to an excellent university.

My concern is Brent routinely reports blatant and widespread cheating throughout the school. The valedictorian cheated his way to the top of the class, a neighbor will be attending Princeton even though she was repeatedly caught cheating on tests, and another neighbor cheated on the ACT to achieve a score disproportionate to her grades and SAT scores, which allowed her admission to a distinguished university.

The school turns a blind eye to the cheating and provides only nominal punishment in cases too blatant to ignore. Brent has become disenchanted and cynical about the administration and maintaining his integrity. What advice can I give my son when all around there are examples of cheaters coming out on top? — NOT A CHEATER

DEAR NOT A CHEATER: The cheaters may have cut in line, but don’t view it as coming out on top. Point out to your son that sooner or later cheaters are usually unmasked when they arrive at college unprepared. The best advice you can give Brent would be to hang onto his integrity, resist the temptation to become bogged down in what others are doing, and study hard because — sooner or later — excellence and ethics are recognized.

DEAR ABBY: My wife, “Stella,” and I have been married 52 years. We have a daughter, “Candy,” who we adopted at 3 weeks old. By the time Candy was 12 or 13, she started having less-than-desirable friends and drinking alcohol with them. Long story short, she graduated from high school, got married, then divorced, married again and has two daughters she has never raised.

We have taken our daughter to psychologists since she was 14 or 15, paid for educational opportunities she didn’t complete and bought her several cars. She got into drugs and wound up in prison. Once she was out of prison, Stella and I sent her to three rehabilitation facilities. She walked away from the last two.

Our daughter is now 46. I am ready to stop trying to help her, but Stella, whom I love dearly, doesn’t seem to be able to stop. I feel we are being enablers and should let Candy deal with her choices without further support from us. Any thoughts or comments? — OVER IT IN OKLAHOMA

DEAR OVER IT: I agree with you. By now Stella should realize that whatever she does to help Candy won’t make her independent. Your wife may feel compelled to continue because she feels responsible for the way Candy has turned out, but the only person who can help Candy is herself.

Because this is causing discord in your marriage, you and your wife should discuss this with a marriage and family therapist who may be able to help Stella recognize that she has done enough for the daughter she so clearly loves.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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