Prevent, Repent, Reform, Revenge: A Study in Adolescent Moral Development

Prevent, Repent, Reform, Revenge: A Study in Adolescent Moral Development

Prevent, Repent, Reform, Revenge: A Study in Adolescent Moral Development

Prevent, Repent, Reform, Revenge: A Study in Adolescent Moral Development

Synopsis

Prevent, Repent, Reform, Revenge, is a study of the aims that people intend to achieve by the sanctions and treatments they recommend for wrongdoers. The book is designed to answer two main questions: What kind of analytical scheme can profitably reveal the nature of people's reasoning about the aims of sanctions they propose for perpetrators of crimes and misdeeds? In the aims that people express what changes in overt moral reasoning patterns appear between later childhood and the early adult years? The authors conducted interviews with 136 youths between the ages of 9 and 21 to find out what sanctions and aims they felt were appropriate in three cases of wrongdoing. The resulting information provides an important insight into adolescent moral development.

Excerpt

The general purpose of the study reported in this book has been to answer the question: "What do people hope to accomplish by the sanctions they would impose on wrongdoers?" A more specific purpose has been to answer this question in relation to people across the age range of 9 to 21, that is, across the stage of life known as adolescence.

The study was conducted in four phases. First, a structured interview was designed for eliciting people's opinions about what consequences should be experienced by the offenders in three cases of wrongdoing. Second, a framework was devised for analyzing those opinions. Third, 136 young people--ages 9, 14, 17, and 21--were interviewed. Fourth, their audiotaped interviews were transcribed and the results interpreted by means of the analytical framework.

As the authors of this work, we are deeply indebted to a variety of people whose assistance made the project possible. First, we are grateful to Humboldt State University for the "Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity" award, which financed the conduct and transcription of the 136 interviews. Next, we wish to express our appreciation to the graduate students who so ably carried out the interviews and subsequently coded the audiotaped data. The team leaders were Tonya Gray and Karen Wilson. Team members were Scott Carson, Shellye Howard, Linda Lacunza, Michael Van Orden, Carlos Salas, Laura Schlotzhauer, and Barry Tucker.

We particularly wish to thank the 136 interviewees whose enthusiastic participation was essential to the success of the venture.

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