Do I tell the parents of a teenager that I know he has been lying?

(37 Posts)
milvus Fri 26-Jul-13 20:16:32

I know a teenager who is very talented, and clearly clever in many ways. But sadly he fabricates things - and has admitted to one "offence" because he had little choice.

What he did was not "terrible", but he is a keen birdwatcher, and fabricated details of a bird that he said he'd seen at a nearby location. Had this bird been genuine it would have attracted hundreds of birdwatchers from all over the country. He posted details of it on several websites and clearly wanted to cause people to take notice. He also attached a photo of the bird which he later admitted was taken at a zoo when people noticed from the photo's details that it could not be a wild bird.

He was 15 then. When I asked him why he created the hoax he did not answer directly, but agreed it was very stupid. Rather than impress people, he has actually made a complete fool of himself. Many hundreds of birdwatchers know about this case - and few will now listen to anything he says in the future.

I am sure he tried to create the same effect once again, but this time in the third person - so a kind of double hoax.

I also know that he recently submitted a photo for a competition of UK wildlife images which he took abroad rather than in the UK. He has a number of awards already - but it seems that winning by honest means is not on for him.

I am about the same age as his parents, and I am married with no children.

SO....... my question to you is this. Should I tell his parents - or should I just confront him again myself? I am one of the few people who is prepared to give him a second chance, and I have tried to help him - but now he has lied to me.

shaggyrogers Fri 26-Jul-13 20:25:38

I would just leave it tbh.

colditz Fri 26-Jul-13 20:31:33

It is sad that you are "one of the few", he's a child who did something silly, for gods sake. Just leave it, it's such a non issue.

milvus Fri 26-Jul-13 21:25:10

Interesting replies - thanks..... and I have also felt that I should leave it (even though this lad is named widely in forums like this in the bird world). Another friend who knows him and is aware of the lying is a teacher and had suggested that the parents should know - and has indeed said he'd meet them with me.

GherkinsAreAce Fri 26-Jul-13 21:30:57

I don't think it is a non issue colditz tbh - this kind of thing could ruin any career as a researcher and cause him to fail exams if done in coursework. If the nature photo thing has prize money attached it could be near fraud.

If you care about him i would talk to him myself and ask him why. I would ask what he would think of someone else conducting himself like this. try to find out why. Maybe give him examples of people caught fabricating and how it affected their standing. Tell him he is talented enough to make it without cheating and owes it to himself to try.

lljkk Sat 27-Jul-13 09:06:51

I would only get involved if it were a safety issue.
He'll be a lucky boy if that's the daftest thing he ever does.

LongTimeLurking Sat 27-Jul-13 20:49:28

Honestly this seems pretty trivial to me. Unless he is about to do something dangerous to himself or others I think you should mind your own business.

A 15 year old who has to make up tales is perhaps not quite happy with life - I can't see what you will achieve apart from embarrassing/humiliating him really.

Caster8 Sat 27-Jul-13 21:00:12

His parents are probably more than aware by now that he regularly lies, so no, I wouldnt tell them.

Yes, you could try and gently confront him yourself.

MaryRose Sun 28-Jul-13 11:10:37

Sorry am I hearing this? His lying amounts to faking photos of BIRDS? Geez.,,,I thought I was going to read he was drug dealing, stealing cars, blinking off school and lying about it. Really,I think you and his parents could find something more significant to worry about, sorry to sound so blunt, but really..,

MaryRose Sun 28-Jul-13 11:11:07

*bunking off school

GherkinsAreAce Sun 28-Jul-13 11:43:23

I'm really shocked no one thinks this matters.

What he is doing recently is cheating. He is entering a photograph on false pretences in order to win. There may be a money prize which if he wins he will get by fraudulent means. He may potentially beat another photographer with a genuine photograph.

His rare bird hoax could have led to inappropriately spent conservation funding or research funding, not to mention the inconvenience for all the bird watchers rushing to see a fake. Antisocial behaviour.

He is also damaging himself - if he becomes a researcher in this field in the future whispers will always follow him.

lljkk Sun 28-Jul-13 11:52:04

I think it was a failed attempt to cheat? And now he's the bad rep he won't have that chance again.

Yes it will follow him around, like a bad stain.
But less than if he got done for trespassing, being drunk & disorderly & shoplifting (which plenty of other teens get up to).

GherkinsAreAce Sun 28-Jul-13 12:19:43

The photo competition is still live isn't it? He's still cheating.

If he does this as a researcher and is caught he will lose his job. There are many other situations where this kind of fabrication would be fatal. He needs adult guidance and encouragement to stop now.

lljkk Sun 28-Jul-13 12:57:51

Ah, you're right, competition is still live.
Then it would make sense for OP to contact the contest organisers.
Very messy to contact the parents, though. OP's concern could be quite misconstrued.

UnrequitedSkink Sun 28-Jul-13 13:04:32

What is your relationship with him? If I were a misunderstood teenager again I think I would far prefer to be approached directly than have my parents tell me off like a naughty child. He may really appreciate your concern and be able to offload some stuff. And intervention now may just steer him back in the right direction before his life gets out of hand. On the other hand, he might just be a little git who enjoys making other people look stupid.

NoComet Sun 28-Jul-13 13:13:16

If he was my son I'd like to know. Stuff on the Web persists. If he is a cleaver lad who goes off and does a science degree and wants a post grad grant any hint of lying and fraud will count very against him very badly.

MaryRose Sun 28-Jul-13 22:24:03

Oh come on! I know employers do trawl the net but he's not going to lose a job because he once posted a fake photo in a competition is he? If someone knocked on my door telling me one of my kids had done this I'd thank them politely for letting me know then collapse in fits of giggles once the door was closed

MaryRose Sun 28-Jul-13 23:55:42

And the poster who said 'anti-social behaviour'???? I'm sorry but I'm a copper's wife and that is defined as 'behaviour designed to cause harassment, alarm or distress ' (HAD) try reporting this as such and the police will have their most massive laugh of the week :-) though of course the official term is 'not an appropriate use of police resources'!

Still18atheart Mon 29-Jul-13 00:04:51

How do you know the family.

How where you made aware that he was cheating?

How old is he I gather he was cheating but is a 13 yo or an 19 yo.

Still18atheart Mon 29-Jul-13 00:06:48

Surely it will count more against his future if he's a 19yo than a 13 yo iyswim

mrsdinklage Mon 29-Jul-13 00:22:33

I would not tell his parents. I did tell a parent of a younger child that their dc did something dangerous - they said I was a liar ! hmm
But they thought the sun shone out of the arse of their dc.
If you feel he will listen to you - then I see no reason not to talk to him.

valiumredhead Mon 29-Jul-13 00:27:15

Ha ha hagrin it is a non issue, let him learn by his own mistakes, it's nothing to do with you OP. Good grief it's laughable!

catballou Mon 29-Jul-13 00:39:17

It's not laughable, I agree with Milvus this is an issue , and mostly he's letting himself down though he may not realise it yet. It could affect his future career -after all how is this different from say plagiarism which is taken very seriously? He needs to wake up to the fact what he's doing is wrong, and any prize money or accolades won are nothing to be proud of.
I would say something to him, but I see it's a tricky one on what approach to use, as falling out with him or his parents would not be a good thing.

valiumredhead Mon 29-Jul-13 00:43:51

But it's HIS business, and his mistake to learn by. If it affects his future then tough shit, he's old enough to realise that he might get caught and will have to suffer the consequences.

Sometimes you just have to mins your own beeswax!

valiumredhead Mon 29-Jul-13 00:45:04

Basically what Mary rose said earliergrin

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