Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR READERS: Today's column is a continuation of the one I printed yesterday regarding cheating and ethics -- a topic that clearly touched a nerve with many readers.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a retired teacher. Your response regarding high school honor students cheating shows that you do not understand the current school system. Administration is too busy with REAL problems and chooses to ignore this one. In fact, I had "good" students caught using drugs at lunch and nothing was done because "these students are not causing problems in school." -- LARRY IN TEXAS

DEAR LARRY: I disagree with school administrators who pretend that students getting stoned on campus isn't a problem. Those "honor" students may not have been openly disruptive, but they were breaking the law, and that is a serious problem. If there is no accountability, then no solution to a problem is possible.

DEAR ABBY: You're right that ethics have taken a nosedive, but where does it start? It starts in the home. I've seen moms feed their children food at the grocery store and throw the wrapper away without paying for it. Everyone needs to look at the behavior they model for their children and do the right thing. -- DEBBIE IN GREER, S.C.

DEAR ABBY: When I attended college at a small school in Oregon, my English teacher was in her first year of teaching. A few days after the first test I took in her class, she announced that she had proof that someone had cheated. She then discarded those tests and passed out new ones. Frankly, I was glad to have a teacher who didn't look the other way. -- ANNE IN PORTLAND, ORE.

DEAR ABBY: I teach at a state university. If I catch students cheating, they fail my course automatically. In addition, I also have the option of attaching the reason for that failure to their transcripts, which will probably make finding a job more difficult after they leave school, since those transcripts provide proof of their dishonesty to potential employers.

Too many people in our society, students included, opt for the easy way out when challenged. If "Valedictorian Contender" feels guilty about turning in cheaters, he/she should consider that getting caught now might be the best thing that could happen to them. Not only are they cheating themselves out of the learning they would have gained by putting forth the effort to learn the material, but they also risk their chances for future success. -- S.L. IN OHIO

DEAR ABBY: If students today were taught the value of morality by studying literature and philosophy, history and economics, they would develop a higher mind and a greater belief in their own need for a sounder character.

We are assailed on many fronts by problems that seem insurmountable and insoluble, and it's easy to become discouraged. But so long as some of us strive to emphasize the need for honesty and instill in our young charges a sense of outrage for injustice, dishonesty and chicanery, we can avoid what earlier generations called mountebankery, humbug and fraud. -- C.R. IN HOUSTON

DEAR ABBY: I cannot stress the importance of exposing wrongdoing when it is encountered. To quote Robert F. Kennedy: "Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted, when we tolerate what we know to be wrong, when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy or too frightened, when we fail to speak up and speak out, we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice." -- KERRY IN MONTGOMERY, ALA.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600