The Six Pillars of Character

Published February 1, 2004

For character education, many schools have adopted the Character Counts! program from the Josephson Institute of Ethics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Marina del Rey, California. The Institute and its partners in the Character Counts! Coalition are committed to improving the ethical quality of America’s young people through character education.

The six pillars of character are core ethical values that form the foundation of the Character Counts! youth-ethics initiative.

Be honest
Don’t deceive, cheat or steal
Be reliable–do what you say you’ll do
Have the courage to do the right thing
Build a good reputation
Be loyal–stand by your family, friends, and country

Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule
Be tolerant of differences
Use good manners, not bad language
Be considerate of the feelings of others
Don’t threaten, hit, or hurt anyone
Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements

Do what you are supposed to do
Persevere: keep on trying!
Always do your best
Use self-control
Be self-disciplined
Think before you act–consider the consequences
Be accountable for your choices

Play by the rules
Take turns and share
Be open-minded; listen to others
Don’t take advantage of others
Don’t blame others carelessly

Be kind
Be compassionate and show you care
Express gratitude
Forgive others
Help people in need

Do your share to make your school and community better
Stay informed; vote
Be a good neighbor
Obey laws and rules
Respect authority
Protect the environment


For more information …

Information about the Josephson Institute of Ethics and “The Six Pillars of Character” is available at