Plagiarism and Kids on the Net

I was discussing plagiarism software with some colleagues. One said that “one of the most successful techniques is simply to input a whole suspicious sentence into Google in quotes and see what comes up.”

I quite agreee. I do this when I am suspicious about submissions to Kids on the Net. On New Year’s Day I wrote to a young American girl to say that I wouldn’t be publishing her poem because it was a straight copy. I’m usually quite gentle because I sometimes think that teachers give children models and aren’t specific enough about how to use the models to create their own poems (plus I think sometimes children remember by heart more than they realise). So I just suggested she try to write her own along the same lines.

Cue an irate and offensive email from child’s father saying he “saw her write it”. Followed by an embarrassed climbdown when I sent him the URL of the poet’s site where it was clearly available to see.

And I still feel guilty because I probably got that child into trouble on what should have been a happy family day!

I’ve had two girls (American again) fighting over the rights to a poem and I was able to prove that one of them had submitted it to Kids on the Net much earlier than the other even knew about. One of them was about to fail at graduating from high school because she insisted it was her poem. Both had dedicated teachers willing to swear their pupil would never lie. Such a disappointment for the one on the losing side :(

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