In his Stages of Moral Development, Lawrence Kohlberg states that human beings progress from a Preconventional Level of moral development (in which they refer to rules imposed by others) to a Postconventional Level of moral development (in which they refer to rules imposed from within themselves). Just as Kohlberg states, adolescents undergo moral growth in stages. They may be easily influenced by peers or by environmental cues, but most teens grow to assert impressive measures of responsibility in their moral growth. Identification With Role Models that affets moral development of adolescents: 1.
The first positive role model that any child should have is a parent. Nevertheless, many parents fail to realize the value of modeling positive behavior to their children. They may try to instill certain standards of behavior in their children, but children are more likely to imitate the behavior they observe in a parent than to listen to any regulations that a parent hopes to impose (see Reference 2). As a child grows into adolescence, his role models may be as diverse as musicians, friends or even politicians. While his choice of role models may appear to be reckless or misguided, he is likely to seek role models who demonstrate behavior that is consistent with the types of behavior modeled by his parents or caregivers. Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is often considered to be a negative force in the life of a teen. Indeed, most teens will not choose to engage in negative behaviors such as smoking or premarital sex unless coaxed to do so by her peers. Still, peer pressure often exerts a positive influence on the life of a teen. Often, teens will provide support to one another in times of stress. For example, if a teen is considering committing suicide, her friends will usually be the first to tell her that life is worth living. Impulsiveness
Teens may engage in a variety of destructive behaviors simply as a result of impulsiveness. Lacking a knowledge of consequences that is reinforced by solid experience, teens may engage ill advised behaviors such as driving while intoxicated or experimenting with drugs. Since adolescence is a time of dramatic hormonal changes, teens may be heavily influenced to give into sexual urges if they are given the opportunity to do so. Assumption of Responsibility
A teen is more likely to assume responsibility for his own behavior if his parents allow him to make choices instead of pressuring him to respond to mandates. Parents must also take an active interest in discussing the importance of responsibility to an adolescent. For example, if a young teen wishes to go on a date with a boy she is interested in, her parents should agree with her upon a curfew that she should observe. If she fails to arrive home in time, the parents should question her about her behavior. The only way she will learn to take responsibility for her behavior is if she is forced to be held accountable for how she behaves. Developing a Sense of Duty
Feeling a sense of duty is different from accepting responsibility. Duty often requires a teen to take proactive measures in a greater social context. Teens reach an advanced moral level once they are responsive to their greater duties within society. For example, once a teen begins to question the ethics associated with misdemeanors he has committed, he may begin to reevaluate his own patterns of behavior (see Reference 3). Rather than simply taking responsibility for the role he plays in society, he may attempt to modify his behavior out of a sense of moral duty. Instead of simply saying, "I did it," he will begin to say "It is not right for me to do it again."
During the 1920s, many social commentators in the United States were convinced that the nation was in serious moral decline. In large measure, the decline was blamed on American youth (including adolescents and young adults), because they abandoned traditional values, no longer respected authority, and gave...
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