NBC12 Viewpoint: ethical decisions

By: Kym D. Grinnage - Vice President,  General  Manager

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As the result of an invitation from Junior Achievement I recently spent an Hour of Power with the students of a local Richmond High School. The students may have been ready for me, but I wasn't quite ready for them. The topic of the day: Making Ethical Decisions.

When I asked the class to give me a definition of "making an ethical decision," one student immediately said, "Doing The Right Thing." After much discussion on various situations that might involve making ethical decisions, we landed on "Snitching." For those of you who don't know what that means, "it means telling on people when they do bad things."

At the beginning of the discussion, I was disappointed to learn that the vast majority of the class felt that snitching was absolutely against the rules. A snitch was a reviled person in the neighborhood and definitely someone to be avoided. Not that I was surprised by the initial response, but it cut to the core when I could see that they were passionate about their positions and willing to defend them with much energy.

So how could we get back to "Doing The Right Thing". It wasn't until we made the situations very personal and the consequences very real, did the vast majority of the students have a change of heart. What they discovered is what they already knew: there are various ways that one can do what is right and at the same time keep their families and friends safe.

One of the life lessons revealed during that Hour of Power was very strong. If you make ethical decisions when you are young, you tend make ethical decisions when you grow up. The students at John Marshall High School have it right, "Just Do The Right Thing."

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