Moral Development

During the last half of the twentieth century, perceptions of increased school violence within the United States renewed public concern for children's moral development. The study of moral development includes the way individuals reason about morality, the emotions associated with morality, the actions or behavior demonstrating morality, and the socialization or teaching of morality. Morality is the level of agreement or disagreement with a system of moral rules or standards of right and wrong. Although some children as young as thirty-four months know the difference between morality and social custom, the distinction between the two concepts is often distorted. For example, many children considered flag burning to have moral consequences. Respect for a flag is a social convention or a culturally agreed upon and accepted custom, regulation, or protocol that changes with social opinion. Moral rules, however, rarely change. Considering this confusion, research concerning moral reasoning, emotionality, behavior, and socialization often overlaps with topics concerning other types of prosocial development.

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