Young people own up to their sins, but most say they're happy with their personal standards and ethics.

Lying is sometimes justified and therefore okay, according to young people, many of whom admit they have cheated in exams or stolen from shops.

In a survey of 500 people aged 18 to 30 years old, 89 per cent said they believed lying was sometimes necessary. A total of 92 per cent admitted cheating in one form or another in their lives - more than half of those surveyed admitted they had cheated in a high school exam, and one in five said they had cheated on their partner.

Just over half said it was "sometimes okay" to lie about being sick to take the day off work, and 55 per cent said it was okay to lie to avoid hurting someone's feelings.

On Queen St, most teenagers spoken to said they had never and would never lie, cheat or steal.


Claudia Dorr, 19, said she had never cheated or stolen anything as it simply was the wrong thing to do.

"I'm not a religious person, but I've always been taught to do the right thing and to be honest. Cheating won't get you anywhere. Look at Valerie Adams and that Belarusian lady - you'll always get caught."

Miss Dorr admitted she did tell the odd white lie now and again, but only to protect someone.

Student Kusitafu Tu'uta, 17, said he had never cheated in anything, but admitted that if a shop owner were to give him extra change, he wouldn't own up to it.

"I'd keep walking. It's not my mistake, it's his."

Another student, George Samau, 18, said a white lie was sometimes necessary.

"Sometimes I'll lie because I don't want to hurt someone else - it's just a white lie and I'm doing it for the right reason."

Mr Samau said there was a time he cheated in a test as an intermediate student, but never in high school.

As for cheating on a girlfriend, he was adamant: "Straight up, I've never cheated on a girl. Karma will get you later on and it will happen to you."

Shannon-Lee Wawer , 16, admitted she had cheated once in a test at high school, but hardly ever told a lie simply because she was terrible at it.

The SayWhat study, carried out by Colmar Brunton between July and August, also indicated that 87 per cent of people were satisfied with their personal ethics and character.

Survey spokesman Spencer Willis said: "The most worrying thing is that it is deemed acceptable - 87 per cent of participants say they are satisfied with their ethics and character.

He said one participant summed up why dishonesty was so high: "Every person is constantly pressured by the media and society to bend the rules. The image of a person who is successful is due not to playing by the book is extremely popular, so everyone gives in to it at some point."

Excuses, excuses
89% believe lying is sometimes justified.

92% of young people have cheated in one form or another.

53% do not consider receiving too much change and not owning up as stealing.

48% have stolen from a shop.

52% have cheated in an exam or homework at high school.

21% have cheated in a relationship.

Source: Colmar Brunton Sayit poll of 500 people aged 18-30. Margin of error 4.4%