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Tag Archives: Child & Adolescent Development

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Addressing Body Image in Children & Teens

Various media sources may influence one’s perception of the ideal self, or the aspirations and perceptions of others and self, regarding qualities and characteristic of personal value; and thus have a correlating role in the development of one’s thoughts, feelings, and overall judgement or self-worth or one’s self-esteem (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). The actualized image, or real self-concept, is partially predetermined before birth by one’s unique biogenetic composition. Additionally,  spiritual-evolutionary factors designed before the beginning of time and formed in the womb  play a role in the determination of the actualized self-image (Ps 51) .The real-self and ideal- self is further determined by a lifelong relationship with family, peers and society and host of external environmental variables of culture and creation (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014).

One’s reactions within a crisis and the ability or inability to adapt, cope, and overcome the various occurrences of both positive and the negative consequential influences of the mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and social variables shapes the image in the  development of all people (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). This ongoing developmental-stage is fostered by the presence and / or absence of nurturing (love), by modeling (imitation of characteristics and abilities), learning (acquisition of knowledge), (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014)and discernment through experience and wisdom which often must be gained with cautious & prudent investigation and assessment of past present and future motivation and intention (Prov. 8:12 NIV). While any characteristic, ability, value, or virtue is based on one’s quality of experience, additionally it may be measured by normative statistics forming a generalized baseline for a particular group within each subculture or culture in a given specified region or ethical people group (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014).

Thus, when an abnormal measurement is obtained the deviant value may indicate a radical element, or a variable that is in opposition to the normative standard to the social normative. However, such a deviation may simply indicate eccentricity, innovation or an evolutionary adaption. Per se, even terms such as right and wrong, good and evil, pretty, ugly, fat and thin, will vary from culture to culture, place to place, and even within the proximity of time (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014).

On matters of cultural differences and identity, The Apostle Paul addresses the issue of what is more appropriate; righteousness, being moral, or just – following the Law and the social normative standards of culture and society. In Romans 15 Paul concludes, “Faith is not a matter of being moral or conforming to ritualism, religion, or obligation to any form of the Law, but rather that a life lived in obligation in faith brings glory to God. Rather, love and worship is about endurance and perseverance in the exercise and discipline of faith.  Furthermore, we should conduct ourselves in a manner as Christ did by encouraging and building up each other through acceptance, in hope, unity with grace, and in mercy. Our faith is thus not based on any works of law or deeds of morality but faith forms the basis of living in accordance to the workings of the law and the virtues of God. Finally, God writes morality on each person’s heart and the interaction of the individual within the community through the intercession of the Holy Spirit forms the hope that leads to and encourages the development of faith. The weak, or those whom are subjected to the authoritarian principles of the Law and the free-willed moralist should not let their pride cast judgment on one another but rather work together for the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven ( Rom 15: 1-7 NIV).”

James similarly states this message, “As Work without faith is dead as well as faith without works is meaningless. For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead (Jas 2: 14:25 HCSB).”

When counseling parents or caregivers on methodology to aid in identity issues, such as issues pf body image it is important to remind those we teach that Jesus regarded all with unconditional acceptance and love.  Our self- worth and significance is defined only in and through living in faith and our attempts to model actions, thoughts and feelings that are attributed to the mind and heart of Christ ( Phil 1-6 NIV).

Additionally we all are given unique talents, attributes, and abilities before birth, but our thoughts, feelings and reactions influence our behaviors and our  perspective on identity, Thus are image concepts are both on a personal and social level and additionally intrinsically given by God. (Rom 12).

Our pride serves as the basis for all motivation, drive and intentions, which leads to our reactions and interactions with all creation. Pride also is the basis of every transgression and sin and even our best intentions to serve the law and act morally may corrupted by sin leading to our separation or death from God (Rom 1:8 NIV).

True freedom and our redemption from slavery, our justification of worth and citizenship as heirs to the Kingdom, and our salvation is not solely our own making but primarily comes from profession, acceptance, and conformity to the ways of the Spirit and dying to the ways of the flesh or worldly desires.

In loving servitude as stewards to God in every action and interaction as ambassadors, we trudge fourth in the blessed assurance on our path of restoration in the Likeness of Christ. We seek to embrace other in peace, hope, joy and love building disciples as we spread the message to a fallen world awaiting the return of our Savior King.

Many studies have indicated anything from the toys that girls play with such a Barbie (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014)to the physic appearances and attitudes of characters in children’s movies help form the basis of body image, ideal self and self -worth.  Even Disney movies often portray females as pretty but fragile and weak and in need of saving by the strong heroic masculine figure, or depict woman as evil witches,  or it’s is ok for women to give up on dreams, talents or ambitions or even to be of lower intellect as long as she is beautiful. For everyone knows beauty is the most desired trait by every prince (Beth, et al., 2003).

Although the media may influence the development of body image through advertisement and product placement of unhealthy foods that may lead to obesity in some individuals (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). The exaggeration or overemphasis on certain desirable physical and social attributes in characters in movies, books and other forms of media and the promotion of certain moral, political, or other social values plays less of a role on identity development.

God created all of us uniquely (Ps. 51 NIV) has a multitude of plans for each of us (Jer.  29:11 NIV), has given humanity freewill and guidance under the Law to become virtuous, and in addition “God knows every hair on our head (Luke 12:7 NIV) and the thought within our minds and desires of each of our Hearts (1 Pt. 3: 3-4 NIV),”

Yet, although God loves all people unconditionally in our election we must chose to profess believe in the substitutive  love- offering that freed  us from the bondage of Sin and grants us our citizenship and restoration and redemption to the Image of Christ and coheirs of the Kingdom of Heaven through our obedience living in and by faith. Thus, our identity rest in Christ alone and is strengthened by our transformation of heart and mind and the aided by and in our conformity to the Holy Spirit and death to flesh, or worldly desires (Rom. 6, 8, 12-15 NIV).

The main influence on identity is one’s peer and family reactions and interactions. Thus, the best strategy to aid in both establishing a secure attachment style and identity is to model and scaffold thoughts, feelings and actions that encourage both independence and compliance to authority (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). By empowering and inspiring principles of communal cooperation, respect for others, dignity, diversity and unity while teaching unconditional positive regard and biblical relevancy and truth one can begin the lifelong transformation process into the identity of Christ. The end result is the attainment of unity of mind, body, soul and Spirit, the relief of all creation from the pangs of suffering and death, and a new freedom found only as citizens and heirs in the New Kingdom of Heaven (Rom 12-15, Phil 1-6, 1 Cor 12, 1 Cor 13, 2 Tim 3:16 NIV).

In God, Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

Word Count # 1427

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References

Martorell, G., Papalia, D. E., & Feldman, R. D. (2014). A Child’s World: Infancy through Adolescence (13th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill Education.

 

 

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Early Childhood Education

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The Montessori Method is an empirical style of learning in which children develop at their own pace using a variety of developmental and age appropriate tasks in a systematic fashion. The Montessori Method utilizes instructors and fellow classmates as mentors and additionally, the classroom is structured to provide a soothing and orderly environment to promote positive and harmonious growth for all participants in the program.   In this educational style, natural learning theories involve principles of rationale, spiritual and foundational learning are combined and although the curriculum follows a specific path each student helps shapes the focus and progress thus determining the outcome or growth of each student and the class. (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014).

Reggio Emilia, a less formative model that focuses on each individual’s unique interests by encouraging the exploration of creative ideas, thoughts, feelings and interactions. The abilities, talents, and skills are developed using drama, music, free-play through music, and free-expression in words, poetry and the arts in respect for the development one’s diverse needs and abilities of each student. Other methods of learning also are less formal and structured to encourage creativity, unique expression and other forms of abstract and post conventional thinking and expression (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014).

In both methods above locomotive play is incorporated with structured learning. However, in Reggio Emilia the arts are embraced, as is the development of individualism and free expression (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). Additionally, the method tends to favor more of a qualitative approach focusing on aspects and stages rather than on quantity as in other methods, which focus on basic foundational skills of language and mathematics taught on repletion and social normative standards (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014).

In Montessori language, math, free play, and values and elements of spirituality are incorporated into a structured program with the child setting the limits and progression and both teachers and students acting as coaches and mentors in more a symbolic or communal setting (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014).

Other learning methods exist within Early Education but tend to focus more on either the development of the basic standardized skills of mathematics, language, and the social normative skills defined by a particular society, or focus on free play. Additionally some methods use a combination of the two standards above.

What is deemed appropriate or best for one child may or may not work for every child. For although learning tends to follow normative patterns in regards to cognitive, social and biological development and the means in which each individual acquire information is determined by one’s environment and experiences (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). Our unique experiences, consequences and the various ways we all develop and incorporate and process information through perception of our senses and the theory of our mind differs, as does the influence of culture and subculture and that of our worldview. Additionally any challenges derived from evolution itself has a positive or negative correlation to one’s growth rate (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014).

As to which model is best suited for Early Childhood Learning it depends on the particular developmental needs of a child. Each individual has different cognitive, social and other developmental needs, strengths and weaknesses and cannot easily be determined simply by either biological, social, environmental or any other factors. As such, the best learning center would offer various learning methods with strategies tailored to meets the multiple complexity of needs of the diverse populous they serve and the variety of interests, virtues, vices and such they may encounter as they prepare the minds and hearts of our future generation to serve and glorify God. Thus, the best center should offer programs suited with combination of methods or a holistic/eclectic blending of developmental-learning theories to help shape the future of the mind, bodies, hearts and souls of the leaders of tomorrow.

For although God created all People in his Image (Gen 1:27). Each of us were created before time, space and Creation began unique yet similar or universal in form (Ps 51). Furthermore, all of us are called to serve various plans in our various stages of life for the prosperity and Glory of God (Jer. 29:11).  This election which is to build, equip and baptize Disciples in Faith in the preparation for the return of our Savior-King during the Second Coming Jesus will bring final restoration of all people of faith. Furthermore, the result is the restoration of all creatures and all creation from the penalty of death that is the result of Sin and return humankind to Holistic Oneness in Mind-Body-Spirit in the likeness of Christ (Premise of Gospel of Romans).

“Blessed are the Children and Cursed be to any whom wish to harm them or cause them to fall, Be like them in their innocence and inherit the Kingdom of Heaven ( Matt. 18: 1-9, Matt. 19: 14-15).” For “We shall all start children off on The Way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it (Pr. 22:6 NIV).”

Whitney Houston proclaims, “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be (Masser & Creed, 1984).” By, embracing, the similarity and building on the unique needs of each child while instilling a understand of unity, diversity and moral and legal understanding educators’ and parents’ shape the future of tomorrow’s leaders and help build lay the foundation of peace, hope, faith and love that will bring assurance, joy and prosperity in generations to come.

In God, Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

Word Count # 994

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References

Martorell, G., Papalia, D. E., & Feldman, R. D. (2014). A Child’s World: Infancy through Adolescence (13th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill Education.

Masser, M., & Creed, L. (1984). Greatest Love of All [Recorded by W. Houston]. On Whitney Houston [Compact Disc]. New York, New York, United Staes: Sony.

 

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FEED MY SHEEP!

Undernutrition: Feeding the hungry

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Undernutrition is a global-pandemic that results in 50% of fatalities in children under five and in addition, 17% of families with children under the age of 18 experience food shortages or food insecurities in the United Sates alone (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). The consequences of this plight include but are not limited to, impaired physiological growth, cognitive impairment, emotional and social imbalances. The result of this crisis includes such effects as lower reasoning abilities and negative socio-interaction skills, verbal and spatial ability impairment, and other memory-associated tasks deficiencies (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). Yet this social-economical-political-cultural-physiological and even environmentally influenced globally devastating disease is both preventable and curable.

The problem of undernutrition is not a new pandemic. Acts 6 and act 11 address this issue with in the Church as well as this plight is illustrated in the story of Joseph in the Old Testament.  The question of many is what role the Church, or The Universal Body of Followers of Christ, may play in preventing and eliminating this pandemic. First, let us examine how the Early Church approached this crisis

Genesis 41 and 42 details a  prediction of the  coming of 7 year of abundance in the fields In Egypt followed by a famine and the necessity of storing of the grain to prepare for the upcoming crisis. The events that follow in Genesis 41 and 42 lead to Joseph’s appointment as an emissary and ambassador in Egypt and the provision of aid to Israel to his brothers’ who sold him into captivity. This illustrates the need for all people, the Church, and all Nations to come together regardless of differences and conflicts, to forgive disagreements, and seek to coexist and work in unity to eliminate global threats such as the pandemic of world hunger.

In Acts 6, seven deacons or elders were chosen to make sure the daily food ration that was collected from the congregation was equally disbursed among Gentiles and Jews within the Church and community. An argument arose that only those decent “Law-Biding and respectable believers of Pure Jewish Ethnicity” would either receive the rations first, or were entitled to benefits. The Apostles appointed the committee to ensure all people received an equal share and to free the ministers to meet the obligations of evangelism and maintaining other Spiritual needs within the community (Acts 6).

This passage shows the necessity of the church to provide resources both of a monetary and commodity nature (food / shelter and clothing) to help combat hunger and assist in other needs in times of crisis.  Additional committees or relief organization may be organized of committees of mature and rationally sound and Spiritual grounded individuals to act in the administration and distribution of other humanitarian relief efforts.  Finally, Acts 6 illustrates that aide is not to be given or denied based on privilege or status, but to be equal disbursed to all people and conflicts shall be negotiated by use of peaceful conflict resolution methods.

Acts 11:27-30 is the depiction of a prophecy of a Great Famine that will effect Jerusalem and much of the South Asia and how the Universal Church will need to take up special offerings and consolidate resources to help provide relief for the region. The famine occurred as predicted in the time of Claudius and the Church provided food, clothing and other resources as an act of humanitarian aid to all people through the Mother Church in Jerusalem.

Building on this historical model the church in times of crisis or whenever a need is present shall provide resources through the collection of food, clothing and other items to meet special needs and shall help supplement ongoing humanitarian relief efforts through the provision of workers or financial support to humanitarian efforts, whether they are secular, or religious in nature.

Undernutrition is the underlying cause for physical, emotional, psychological and social dysfunction and kills 50% of children under the age of five (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). One of the major factors of world hunger is poverty and improper management of resources or pure greed. A few final suggestions are for individuals, corporation and other affluent organizations to cut back on extravagant and unessential needs. By simplify living, donating surplus items, food or of other commodities or even one’s time, all may assist in the fight against world hunger, poverty and other socio-political-environmental crimes affecting all of humanity because of mankind’s sin.

Other options to help prevent and eventually eliminate food shortages and undernutrition includes, programs that promote financial management skills, establishment or support of food banks, participation in environment protection efforts and training in efficient farming practices, and finally awareness of the value of proper diet, hygiene and exercise. Furthermore, the church should educate and support programs on universal humanitarian efforts, the overall necessity of sanctity of all life, and even the importance of immunization

Monetary contributions by individuals and donations of percentages of profits by corporate entities or even an increase in taxation to help those who are less fortunate as well as reforms in areas such as affordability of medical assistance and or free medical coverage will benefit the populous in all areas of help and enable growth.Even a reduction prices or provision of assistance with the basic essential living commodities such as, food, shelter, medicine and clothing also may prove to be a viable option worldwide.

While some doctrines and dogmas of churches focus on spreading the truth or the message of Jesus it is equally or even more important to practice and spread the discipline and message of love. In Being Jesus and assisting in the meeting of needs, one may plant more abundantly fertile seeds than merely proclamation of truth as many people who have turned away from God have done so out of a belief and feeling of betrayal because of unmet needs. In being Christ like Love can lead to trust and then truth providing the freedom from suffering and death that on Christ can deliver.

In going beyond prayer, giving and providing for needs is essential. To paraphrase Jesus’s Greatest Command In Matthew 28:16 “All Glory and Worship or One’s Thoughts, feelings and Actions and who we are and what and to whom we belong to  is  based on the capstone of Christ and the foundation of Love.

Thus, “It is all about the Love.” “First, “Unto God and then to others and finally to self from which obligation in and by faith leads to obedience to all the Law.” This in turns reveals our purpose or truth our very nature and virtue of being in Christ-mindedness and Likeness (Phil 1-6) and brings about a plethora of blessing for both the individual and the community.

Finally, in the giving of the diversified yet unified flavored Spiritual Gift bestowed upon the believer by and in the Holy Spirit for the transformity and conformity of God’s Divine Purpose of Kingdom restoration and fulfillment. Through our justification, redemption and in our salvation, we all become free from the penalty of Sin and Death and become equally significant and secure citizens unified in community, kinship and Oneness with God and community. Upon the return of Christ, we will become fully united and transformed to our rightful image, in union with creation itself and in likeness and in distinction with Jesus living in harmony with all people and all creation (Gal 5, Rom 1-15).

Erik Erikson states, trust is formed by the ability to have access to the provision of one’s need by caregivers or individuals or people of authority (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). When authority figures fail to act responsibly or when needs are not met people experience betrayal, loss of  faith and even blame God or total reject of the notion of the existence of spirituality or divinity may become present in individual’s or society.  The most effective evangelical method with many of restoring hope, trust, and faith that then leads to assurance and finally the ability to comprehend and distinguish truth is by assisting and providing needs and in nurturing or counseling emphatically to one’s thoughts, feelings and action with positive regard and in a manner of love.

Healing and hope is regained by being and showing love, ministering to needs, and when/if, the person is ready in proclaiming the Gospel. However, the Good-News often is most effectively communicated in other manners using general references from everyday life but is best expressed first through patience, kindness compassion and respect for one’s uniqueness, diversity in the spirit of unity and through hope and above all else unconditional love.

In God, Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

Word Count # 1438

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References

Martorell, G., Papalia, D. E., & Feldman, R. D. (2014). A Child’s World: Infancy through Adolescence (13th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill Education.

 

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Information Security:

Methods & Children

&

Overcoming Bullies

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Cyber-bullying is defined as, ” the posting of malicious comments or offensive photos to victimize another on a website, the sending of derogatory texts, or the use of any form of media with the intention to cause harm (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014), has become a fairly common place. Bullying in general is simply a form of abuse and may include neglect, teasing, social isolation, slander, derogatory comments, and even physical or sexual harm (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014).

Abuse and neglect often is a blend of a multiplicity of compounds of sexual, physical, verbal, economic and social variables and as such, neglect and abuse has long lasting affects to all properties of development. The long lasting effect of abuse range from dysfunction and distress in cognitive and emotional abilities to behavioral issues and physical ailments (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). Even feelings of betrayal the inability to form long lasting relationship and negative spiritual consequence such as feeling unloved or abandoned by God and in some cases even concluding that God does not exist are common.

The most effective cure for victims of bullying and betrayal is to aid in the reestablishment of trust and one’s Actualized –identity. The  first step often begins by the expression of empathy, compassion and love in conjunction with meeting unmet needs while help the wounded friend realize, forgive and release without retaliation and then to love past transgressors,  accepting hold-ups and habits and flaws within the other person and self.

Additionally, upon becoming willing the individual should receive the message of the Good News that Jesus is the foundation and Way to Freedom. Thus, it is not a matter of effort or any moral deed that will produce happiness or prosperity and peace or one’s salvation.

After receiving such a revelation. The next step is to instruct the curious and convinced believer in the Gospel. In the process of building -up a Disciple through imitation of action and instruction on spiritual disciplines through modeling and scaffolding the wounded friend learns to walk the path that brings new freedom and reestablishes faith, hope and trust. This allows the individual realization that one’s significance or what we are about and do, and additionally that ones’ security, or whom we belong to and who shall provide and protect us, is found only in our Lord- Jesus Christ.

In our continual growth aided by the Holy Spirit, who comforts and inspires us, and through serving the Father, The Great I Am or that, which is the existence of everything, we trudge through life in worshipful glory in all our thoughts, thinking and actions. Thus, as we attempt to align our will and hearts with his purposes as we serve the various plans as we are called as “Ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven” (2 Cor. 5:20:21, 1 Pt. 2 NIV).

While the use of technology and the internet can be, a useful tool for cognitive and social development from early childhood onward (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014) the context must be monitored as well media content to safeguard against predators, bullying and other malicious intent or harm. Most devices have the ability to enable built in content filters, set up secondary log on accounts, and password protect settings based on a recommended age normative rating scale.  Additionally computers, tablets and other devices that have access to the internet should be monitored or the devices may be used in common areas to ease the ability of parents and guardians with the ability in safeguarding children against unwanted activity.

As a former owner of an information technology and security consulting firm I and have training in internet security and various hardware and firmware although it is a bit out of date by current guidelines, as I have switched my professional focus. However, through hacking, spoofing of location, and other means, cameras and one’s own system, network and information may be used against unsuspecting users for the malicious intent or profit and unfortunately, predators often do so frequently in the case of children and youths (Rindoks, 2016)

Thus, Parents should have easy access to the passwords of social media sites, and in addition, the use of third party content filtering software, anti- malware, anti spyware and other security measures should be in place on all devices. Further steps such as disabling or covering of cameras when not in use, checking, and emptying cache and history folders help safeguard privacy of all users (Rindoks, 2016).

Another suggestion is for children never to post their age, physical location, or other demographic information as predators may use such data to target victims. Additionally one should use caution when posting photos. Predators and criminals in general use pictures and other forms of data that reveal location leading to a variety of crimes from burglary to abuse. Thus, in the profile for youths less personal information is always the best policy. Although information security measures are important to safeguard against identity theft and predators it is also easy to become a techno-phobic and overly protect a system resulting in network or computer that does not perform effectively (Rindoks, 2016).

Finally, parents must learn to trust their children and possibly the best policy is to teach awareness and virtues and values coupled with Biblical truth, dignity and above all empathy, compassion and love ( 1 Cor. 13). It is easy to have a desire to overprotect, overindulge, or even over control hose we love. Either out of our own insecurities, our own past issues or fears of harm to self or others in present and future circumstances.

However, true freedom comes in the loving grace and Mercy of Christ and thus, “All anxiety and care should be cast on his loving shoulders” (1 Pt. 5:7). “For if God is for us whom shall we fear” (Ps. 27:1, Rom. 8:31, Heb. 13:6 NIV).

 

In God, Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

Word Count # 980

 

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Martorell, G., Papalia, D. E., & Feldman, R. D. (2014). A Child’s World: Infancy through Adolescence (13th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill Education.

Rindoks, T. (2016). The influence of Media and Young Children. PSYCH 221: Db 4 Reply. TN: Liberty University.

 

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Black White or Shades of Grey: An Analysis

On The Moral Development of Children & Teens

Trenton Clark Rindoks

Liberty University

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Abstract

 This paper is an analysis and assessment of a study conducted by Ellen S. Cohn, Donald Bucolo, Cesar J. Rebellon & Karen Van Gundy and published in 2015 titled, “An Integrated Model of Legal and Moral Reasoning and Rule-Violating Behavior: The Role of Legal Attitudes (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010).” Legal socialization theory is a method to predict the correlation between legal reasoning how one’s actions in regards to obedience, understanding  and conformity to rules and the law form a relationship in the role of ethics and rule violation. Moral development theory is a predictive model of an indirect and direct link of behavior and the intent and action of individuals to break rules or engage in delinquency (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010). The purpose of the study is to integrate moral development, moral development and legal attitude in to a predictive model and assess and analysis the development of morality and delinquency in middle school and adolescent teens.

 

Keywords: Moral development, Moral Reasoning, Legal Reasoning, Legal Attitude,

Child & Adolescent Development, Delinquency, Ethics, Moral Identity

 

 

Black White or Shades of Grey: An Analysis

On The Moral Development of Children & Teens

Preface

The life-long process of ethics, or one’s moral evolution, is dynamic and individualistic and additionally both intrinsic and extrinsic in character. Moral identity and moral development is dependent on both physiological and environmental variables that develop over the various stages in the continual life process of all people. While most people have a symbolic self-image, or moral concept, and thus strive to serve a higher purpose for social order and common good, all people are additionally motivated in their pursuit of ethics and morality by their drive of passions and inclinations towards a particular objective or goal.  Furthermore, moral identity and ethical disposition is influenced by whether or not an action or behavior will be beneficial or harmful and in some instances by the perspective of an outcome of a similarity of past actions. This introspective viewpoint often has a significant role in how one both views the ideal self and actualized moral agent of the individual and influences present reactions and actions (Jordan, Mullen, & Murnighan, 2011).

Finally, cultural, biological, social, political and religious views also play a part in the development of morality, as does the influence of family and peers. The cultural approach uses a template to analyze the influence of autonomy, divinity and community over the lifespan of an individual. In cultures where spiritual influences are encouraged during childhood the use of scripture and the alignment to ones’ virtues of God play a role in moral development and is commonly most expressive beginning in teens when abstract cognition develops. This form of postconventional moral – legal reasoning continues to blossom throughout life with individuals reaching self-actualization or enlightenment, or a concept of integrity typically during the developmental period of middle age to late adulthood (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014).

If societies and families place a de-emphasis on such views, a sense of autonomy or self- interest developments often over the common good of community. This view also known as egocentric or independent places ones’ self in the highest position in the hierarchy of ethics and one has a tendency to strive for the achievement of ones wants for goals, possessions, gains over the needs of others or society (Berger, 2011). However, many who possesses such a trait tend to become effect motivators, powerful leaders and entrepreneurs (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014).

Finally, the role the community or family, peer and society in general is determined by positive and negative experiences and views expressed during social engagement. This cultural-glocalization approach is a method to quantify and qualify both individual and group development and overcome differences to achieve unity and understanding of diversity in regards to worldview and the impact it plays on morality. Ethical development is a lifelong process in stages influenced by a multitude of variables thus; morality is often expressive in a dynamic manner over the lifespan of individuals and cultures (Jensen, 2008).

Introduction

Black White or Shades of Grey, the influence of moral reasoning , attitude and legal disposition and the role it plays in delinquency and development in preteens, adolescence and throughout life is the basis of the Integrated Model of Legal and Moral Reasoning. In examining the strengths and weaknesses of the study and the possible implications for law-enforcement and education through the applications of the findings, an understanding of moral development and diversity summarized within this paper seek to give insights and alternatives to encourage further growth in the field of psychology and other areas pertaining to the discipline of ethics.

Moral reasoning is one’s view “or judgement of right or wrong on issues of morality” (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010).  Legal reasoning is “ones consciousness and ability and appraisal or rules, regulations or laws within a culture or society” (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010). Finally, “culture refers to any community of people who hold a commonality perspective of views, customs and values and does not imply any association to any particular ethnicity or nation” (Jensen, 2008).

Synopsis

Age is often a prediction and determining factor of delinquent behavior. Previous research from other studies have indicated that moral development occurs in stages beginning in early teens and develops through life (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010). Additionally, “delinquent behavior escalates in late teens then declines in most young adults providing a reason why many crimes are committed by teen offenders (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010).

Cognitive testing on teen offenders have indicted less sophisticated abstract reasoning skills in teens who commit crime although a certain degree of moral reasoning existed in the same individuals. Moral and legal reasoning both form a correlation to rule violation among teens. However, most researcher have examined the two variables separately (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010). The Integrated Model of Moral Reasoning and Rule Violating Behavior combines these variables as well as legal attitudes into one model as a means to predict moral development as the possibility of delinquency (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010).

The model is comprised of a logical framework that examines various studies that may influence the ways that rule violation, legal reasoning and legal attitude combine to influence ones’ behavior and outlook on moral action. The numerous variables, causes and effects are compiled and tested using the structured educational model and then the results are equated to see how the differences and similarities between the various groups correlate within the cohorts studied (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010).

The current study of middle and high school teens was performed to predict the development of morality, moral identity, and the probability of delinquency and in what manner various influence shape moral perception, ethics, cognition, and culture influence moral development and conformity (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010).

Proposal

Legal reasoning is one’s committed sense of legal obligation to their community a sense of right or wrong and their wilfulness to act accordingly and is often subdivided into three categories. The lowest class or ethics begins to emerge typically in youths around the age of 2-7 and is called preconventional legal reasoning (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). This basic form of morality and cognition is commonly associated with the avoidance of punishment. The second class is conventional legal reasoning and is associated with the maintenance and preservation of law and order within society and culture. Most people global tend to develop only to the conventional level. Conventional reasoning is associated with the development of concrete learning, the ability to classify objects, spatial recognition, and view other people’s perspectives but not with abstract concepts and thus emerges around the age of 7-11 (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014).

The last classification is postconventional legal reasoning and involves the ability to challenge authority and advocate change for the prosperity of the higher order of society or culture (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010). Individual’s exhibiting traits of postconventional reasoning exists a higher knowledge of the working of the legal system, a perception of the system to be just, and a lower likely hood of committing delinquent acts than people with lower legal reasoning abilities (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010). Additionally although many people have a degree of postconventional reasoning abilities which begin to develop during adolescence with the blossoming of the ability to grasp abstract concepts and the ability to think outside the box. Postconventional reasoning develops throughout the various life stages, only reaches maturity in a few individuals, and often is considered a deviant or divergent trait in many societies and cultures (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014).

Legal consciousness, or one’s legal attitude, has been attributed to offenses by many criminologist and psychologist (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010).  Social bonding theory indicates that people are less susceptible to commit offenses when their peers or families hold them accountable to beliefs that are inconsistent with their own self-interest or that of their culture (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010). Yet prior to committing a delinquent act many people rationalize or neutralize their values in order maintain a temporary equilibrium while committing an immoral action or offense (Jordan, Mullen, & Murnighan, 2011). Finally, people tend to learn delinquent and criminal behavior by modeling from peers. (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010) Individuals have a tendency to view the legal system in a negative perspective from past involvement with law enforcement either personally or from the negative experiences of people close to them within their culture or subculture (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010).

Legal attitude is one’s acceptances of values and the social norm and includes one’s regard towards justice and the legal system and as such, a lower value would be an indicator of a predisposition towards delinquency with a higher value indicative of an approval of law enforcement and the justice (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010).

In the absence of research on the correlation of one’s legal consciousness moral reason and rule violation  plays in conjunction with either legal attitude and moral consciousness,  The integrated model is the first to compare and analyze all three variables in an attempt to understand the relationship all may play in moral development.

Moral reasoning, or the ability to differentiate right from wrong, is a cognitive skill that developing first in children and then becomes increasingly more advanced in most people over the course of a lifetime.  Moral reasoning is the means in which people justify a given behavior or action and in males is commonly focused on a belief of justice and logic or Judgement over rationality of Behavior or emotional response (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010).

However, self-reporting measures of delinquency and moral reasoning have given a variety of results indicating both a direct and indirect link of moral reasoning and the possibility of other variables in moral development and delinquency in youths and teens. In an attempt to explain these inconsistencies the Structured Equation Model, or SEM, was used in conjunction with a three stage longitudinal study developed from legal socialization theory.

The SEM, “which predicts normative status, enforcement status, attitude and meditation between legal reasoning and rule violation” from which a three stage self-reporting quiz was then developed, implemented and analyzed (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010). Phase 1 tested attitude, phase 2 tested normative and enforcement status and phase 3 evaluated attitude in correlation with reasoning and delinquency.

Finally, a separate model was develop to test the two cohort groups to determine the rate at which reasoning and attitude developed in each group and the overall model to gain a better association of all variables od development (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010).

Methodology

Participants

This model is part of the New Hampshire Youth Study, which is an ongoing longitude study on moral development in early and late teens. Four communities were chosen with respect to diversity and testing was conducted with the classroom of various middle school and high school upon receiving parental consent and informing the participants and all parties of the intent of the study. Each participant was compensated with a ten-dollar gift card for each of the five sessions. 1040 students were initial chosen for the study. 935 complete the first session in 2007, while 939 completed the second phase. In the spring of 2008, during the last phase, only 831 finished the study.  Finally, after accounting for missing or incomplete data only 671 students completed the entire process. By comparing the means and standard deviation of those who completed all three sessions and those who did not or those with missing data there was no indication of a significant difference or variance among the cohorts (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010).

Participants were composed of students from eight middle schools (384) and five high schools (287) and were 2/3 Caucasian with a gender composition of approximately 60% female in both groups. Additionally, participants reported religious affiliation, parents education level,  in addition to age, year in school, ethnicity and a composite score was calculated to obtain a SES score from 2-12 with the mean being 7.07 and SD 3.54.

 

Experimentation

The test was composed of a three-stage test based in the Delinquency Component of the National Youth Longitudinal Study given over 18 months. The first phase property offenses, and theft, the second violence and the third substance abuse. Each test was given in various places within schools and participants were asked to raise their hands to any question they had trouble understanding and each test was subdivided into two parts with a short break between sections. Each section took about 35 minutes to complete and all participants were guaranteed the right to privacy and confidentiality, Furthermore each student was separated a set apart avoid plagiarism. Finally, each student was assigned Id number to link the survey with each student. Upon returning for each additional phase, each student would give the researcher his or her name to be matched with an Id number to continue the next phase of the study.

Deduction

Preliminary findings were indicative that middle school students had a more positive perspective of the legal system and higher moral reasoning with females having a more advanced scores than boys. In the areas or enforcement, normative status and views towards law enforcement/ criminal legal systems there was not a significant difference between any of the groups.

By estimating the SEM and comparing against separate models for both middle schools and high school students and controlling for gender differences, a framework was established to create a more accurate analysis of the data sets.  During the first stage, moral reasoning had a direct correlation to delinquency. Additionally a year later individuals with higher normative status, lower enforcement status and lower legal attitude scores engaged in more rule violating behavior (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010).  Additionally, moral reasoning indirectly predicted rule violation during stage 1 and 2 of the experiment. Legal reasoning however, indirectly predicted a correlation of rule violation and legal attitude. In individual with higher levels of legal reasoning, a more positive regard to the legal system was expressed. A direct correlation between delinquency and legal reasoning was determined with individual with lower legal reasoning ability scores having an association with rule violations and offenses (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010).

Finally, moral reasoning among middle school students had a direct link to delinquency when correlated with the social normative status and criminal- legal disposition. It however also played an indirect role in overall legal attitude.

The results additional indicated legal reasoning forms an indirect correlation with legal attitude and perception of justice in middle school aged students. In contrast both moral and legal reasoning in high school students predicted delinquency.

Additionally, normative status and enforcement are directly linked to rule violation in this group. Finally both moral and legal reasoning as well as overall legal disposition form an indirect link as indicted by the relationship and presence of normative and enforcement status in all stages of testing (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010).

Thus, the findings indicate that individuals who have either or both higher scores in legal or moral reasoning tend to approve of punishment for offenses, are less likely to break rules even when a certain approval of rule violation behavior occurs or when deviation from the social normative is present in individuals as is often present in high school students. Finally, those who exhibit a less positive legal attitude have a greater probability of committing offenses (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010).

 

Analysis

Weakness

The Integrated Model of Legal and Moral Reasoning allows researchers to better quantify and qualify ethical standards and predict the possibility of delinquency in people. Yet as the current study omitted social-economic variables and the sample, group was ethnically disproportioned towards the white majority and other cultural influences were not included in the study. A modification of the model including additional cultural, and SES variable could be conducted in other regions congruently in the United States and globally to give a better representation of moral diversity and developmental maturation in general.

Furthermore, although confidentiality and anonymity was respected and assured in the process, some participants of self-reporting studies fear exposure of responses and repercussions as a result may not fully respond in nonbiased manner. Thus, observation studies of individuals and groups within their cultural environmental need to be conducted, contrasted, and compared to gain a more accurate picture of ethics.

Strengths

Despite the drawbacks of the current study, is indicative moral and legal reasoning as well as cognitive level and legal attitude are predictive of delinquency in adolescence of all age groups. Additional studies conducted on other groups and cultures shall have a high possibility of yielding similar results. Intervention strategies to decrease delinquency in adolescent may be developed using the model and shall be focused on the offense committed, reduction in risk taking behavior, prevention of negative crisis events, and positive, family, community and legal awareness as well as cognitive and moral-legal development skills.

 

Relevancy & Practicality of Article

One such program that incorporates moral development and education is the PYD designed to implement rules and policies to increase moral reasoning. Other programs such as cooperation with law –enforcement in teen courts and other programs that focus on positive exposure to law enforcement and the legal system in general shall deter delinquency and aid in ethics and moral development (Cohn, Bucolo, Rebellon, & Gundy, 2010).

Furthermore, educators and students of all social sciences and law / law enforcement can use either the model or the present study to understand the relationship of legal and moral reasoning and attitude and the relationship of delinquency as well as the influence of cognitive development in people as it pertains both to ethics, morality as well as development in general.

 

 

 

Conclusion

The process of moral identity or the importance of ethics, social order, and other values are to an individual develops in various stages of life and is influenced by many variables including moral and legal reasoning, legal disposition, culture/ socio-economic, biological function, cognitive ability, and one’s peers and past and present experiences as well as spiritual views (Hardy & Carlo, 2011). The Integrated Model of Legal and Moral Reasoning is on tool used to quantify and qualify these various variables and predict deviance from social normative values,  the probability of delinquency, and other element of moral development. Yet the current model is not without flaws. Black White or Shades of Grey moral development and identity is both uniquely subjective to individuals and culture yet develops in a similar fashion among many people. Future studies using the models need to include variables of gender, SES, and be conducted in more ethnically and culturally diverse settings. However, the current findings suggest individuals who exhibit a less positive legal attitude have a greater probability of committing offenses and both higher scores in legal or moral reasoning tend to approve of punishment for offenses, are less likely to break rules even when a certain approval of rule violation behavior occurs or a deviation from the social normative occurs. Finally, the result may be applied to created policies to deter delinquency and increase social and legal awareness while advancing programs to blossom cognitive, legal, and moral developmental skills.

Postscript

While the Integrated Model of Legal and Moral Reasoning shows promise for reduction of delinquency and is indicative of the role of cognitive moral and legal reason and legal disposition in preteens and teens as the study only is apprehensive of the social normative of a selective white majority within a selective region of the United States. The study needs to be conducted over more regions within the U.S. and Globally to give a more accurate picture of moral identify and legal and moral reasoning and attitude and the factors it plays in delinquency and ethics.

Additionally, the study does not account for cognitive, social or biological development factors of morality in early development that influence morality and conduct although the Integrated Model may be used to study Early Childhood or Infants as well.  Further studies extended to other developmental groups such as adults, middle age and late adulthood. The results obtained from such studies shall be compared and contrasted in a systematic model to give a universal understanding of moral and social identity and the impacts of delinquency and attitude. The application of a universal study on all groups as promising possibilities

The implementation of better strategies for education and awareness and  improvement in law enforcement and cultural and social sensitivity and diversity shall work towards striving of coexistence and universal diversity and unconditional positive regard and mutual respect as all people trudge the road towards self-actualization and enlightenment or oneness with the Creator of All Things.

 References

Berger, K. S. (2011). The Developing Person Through the Life Span. New York: Worth Publishers.

Cohn, E. S., Bucolo, D., Rebellon, C. J., & Gundy, K. V. (2010, August). An Integrated Model of Legal and Moral Reasoning and Rule-Violating Behavior: The Role of Legal Attitudes. Law and Human Behavior, 34(4), 295 – 309. doi:10.1007/s10979-009-9185-9

Hardy, S. A., & Carlo, G. (2011, September). Moral Identity: What Is It, How Does It Develop, and Is It Linked to Moral Action? Child Development Perspectives, 5(3), 212 – 218. doi:10.1111/j.1750-8606.2011.00189.x

Jensen, L. A. (2008). Through two lenses: A cultural–developmental to moral psychology. Developmental Review, 28(3), 289 – 315. doi:doi:10.1016/j.dr.2007.11.001

Jordan, J., Mullen, E., & Murnighan, J. K. (2011, May). Striving for the Moral Self: The Effects of Recalling Past Moral Actions on Future Moral Behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(5), 701 – 713. doi:10.1177/0146167211400208

Martorell, G., Papalia, D. E., & Feldman, R. D. (2014). A Child’s World: Infancy through Adolescence (13th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill Education.

 

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