What Do You Do When Your Son Commits Plagiarism?

Last week, I posted a story that Declan wrote while home sick from school. I was so impressed with it, I just had to brag share. The few who saw it before I ripped it down couldn’t believe it either.

Read for yourself:


Pretty damn good for a nine year old, right?

I thought so.

I had asked him multiple times before I posted it if HE wrote it. If it was HIS story. After I posted and a few people commented on its brilliance, I told him how much people liked it, and he blushed with pride.

Then his dad saw the post and was suspicious. A few clicks on Google and the story was there, almost word for word in many different places – apparently a very common writing exercise.


A normal sick day just got really, really ugly.

I pulled the post and we had a LONG talk about plagiarism. Like LONG LONG LONG. That it was stealing someone else’s work. That is was OK to use the story for practice (they do a lot of dictation at school) but telling me that it was his original story was where he went wrong.

And he was going to write a new original story to make up for it.

It took hours.

It made no sense for a long time, and still really doesn’t.

It was so painful for him to rewrite over and over to my satisfaction, that he finally just started typing on the computer.

But I think he gets the idea now.


Joe and Buckaroo’s Crazy Day

Kids play Groundies at school. Groundies is a game like tag but you have to close your eyes on the equipment. The story I am about to tell you is about some kids and a monster playing Groundies and the kid getting hurt. Will he survive? Read on to find out.

During a big game of Groundies, Joe pushed Buckaroo off the equipment on to the rocks. “HA HA HA!” Joe hollered. Buckaroo thought he saw something funny on Joe’s face but he wasn’t sure.

“AUGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” Buckaroo yelled as he fell. Buckaroo fell 10 miles and in the air did a full twist and then landed funny. CRACK! “Wahhhh! I broke my ankle!” Buckaroo cried. WEEE OHHH WEEEEE OHHHHHHH WEEEEEE OHHHHH WEEEEEEE OHHHHHHH WEEEEEEE OHHHHHHHH The ambulance is coming!

After 2 months in the hospital Buckaroo came back with a cast on his foot. Buckaroo suggested playing Hide and Seek because he was afraid of playing Groundies. Everyone agreed, even Joe. Buckaroo and his friends played Hide and Seek instead of Groundies.

Buckaroo finds Joe first, deep in a dark corner of the equipment. Unfortunately, Joe was actually a monster and his real face was peeking out of his mask. YIKES! Buckaroo saw his real face! He was scared to death!

See kids, the moral of this story is: Never let monsters play with you.


And parents, never post stories from your kids without doing an internet search first.

This article has 12 comments

  1. Meghann

    I think you did fine. Plagiarism is a form of lying, and the sooner he is taught that, the better.

  2. Megan

    I have to say. This is damn adorable. LOL. That kid is a nut.

  3. zipper

    Great repercussions for his actions!

  4. Bryan

    I was considering telling him that his older brother plagerized once. Once.

  5. Laura

    I like his original story much better than the plagiarized story. I don’t think he will ever forget this experience, not because you were too punitive or harsh but because the punishment fit the crime. I hope this is the worst lie he ever tells you. Trust me on this.

  6. Anonymous

    He is a great kid and you guys are great parents. Well done. – m

  7. Magpie

    Fascinating. And what a learning experience, huh?

  8. Lucrecer

    Wow! I hope the good talking to has changed his way of thinking.

  9. jesshunter

    I love this post (and I’m sorry for the underlying pain). At work, I’m on the Honor Code board and this strikes home.

  10. Kim Hosey

    I think your approach was perfect.

    I know I’ve said before that your kid and my kid could be twins, and I can see this happening (though I hope it won’t). They get praised for their talent already, and they’re just clever enough to try this. I bet he won’t do it again. Because first, plagiarism = totally wrong, and he gets it now. And second, as easy as the Internet makes it to plagiarize, it makes it just as easy to get found out.

    His new story is adorable. You’ve got a good kid. And you’re great parents.

  11. Nancy

    Good for you.

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