Moral development steps and structuring in young people

In no period of human life, moral values ​​are as important as in youth. For many people, the development of a clear sense of morality with boundaries is completed during adolescence. We can define morality as “the set of rules, rights and duties shared by the environment and society”. However, sometimes accepted rules may conflict with each other, in which case the individual has to learn to make a moral choice with his own conscious choice.

Cognitive maturation of the young person, social expectations and demands accelerate moral development. The young person accepts and adopts some of the various values ​​presented to him, while rejecting others. Every young person has a system of values, one way or another, that guides his life. There is a strong connection between a strong sense of identity and having values.

Although almost everyone agrees that the field of morals and values ​​is important for young people, there is no complete consensus on the development of moral values. Different theories have been put forward to understand moral development. Those who advocate the cognitive approach argue that moral values ​​can be realized with the ability to think in accordance with a moral situation. For some, morality is about what people do, not what they think. Jean Piaget’s studies on mental development are important in this regard. Piaget stated that morality develops gradually in parallel with cognitive development. Accordingly, he argued that the moral values ​​of the young child and the moral values ​​of the young child are different from each other because their cognitive capacities are different. At the preoperational mental level, the child simply follows the rules set by the parents; In the concrete operational stage, the child understands that while accepting the rules, there may be exceptions to them. In the period of abstract operations, which is the mental level reached in adolescence, the young person learns to evaluate the rules according to the benefit of society and other people on a large scale.

Lawrence Kohlberg expanded Piaget’s conceptualization and determined that moral development consists of three basic cycles: pre-conventional, traditional, and post-conventional. Each period is also divided into two sub-groups within itself. In the first level, pre-conventional morality, punishment and parental obedience are the main determining factors; In traditional role adaptation, which is the second level, the child tries to maintain good relations with other people in order to be approved and appreciated. In the post-conventional period, which is the last stage of moral development, moral principles are voluntarily obeyed and it is known that exceptions to these rules can be made in certain situations when necessary.

Traditional moral thought predominates in adolescence: According to this, right behavior is to do what one has to do, to respect authority, and to maintain the existing social order. Contrary to what was previously advocated, recent research has revealed that many young people do not go beyond this stage and stay here. Some young people move into the post-traditional era. In this period, universally acceptable, abstract moral principles that do not belong to any social group are acquired.

Cognitively acquiring moral principles does not mean that they will be followed. The fact that people do what they think is right depends on the importance of morality in their personalities and identities. The internalization of moral values ​​on the young side is not based on power and discipline or an education based on deprivation of love; It has been shown by various studies that it can be provided by an education based on explanation and explanation accompanied by interest and warmth. Studies conducted in the West on the value system of youth show that, as we approach the present day, more and more young people consider their own financial and general well-being more important than the society’s. Again, while good education was at the forefront in the studies conducted in the 1970s, making more money in the 1980s was prominent. Even though they are not done in a systematic way, the results of more popular studies in our country in recent years are in this direction.

Development of religious and political ideas in youth

The development of political and religious thoughts in young people is also related to cognitive development, as is moral values. It is expected that religious and political thoughts will acquire a more abstract quality as age increases. In a study conducted in the USA, it was revealed that authoritarianism was a dominant feature in political thought during early youth. As age progresses, political thought becomes less authoritarian, abstract, and takes into account other people’s needs and goals. Religious thought also gradually turns into a more abstract and less verbal form between the ages of 12-18. In the studies conducted in the West, since the 1960s, the number of young people who see religion as the most important value in life has decreased, while an increase in interest in fundamentalist religious traditions has been observed among a certain minority.

aggression in youth

Because of all these features, youth is one of the most prone to violence and aggression in human beings. Statistics reveal that violence is mostly committed by young people and that young people tend to commit more crime. The reasons for this are very diverse. Among the foremost reasons is the increase in aggressive impulses during this period. Showing reactions by actions and behaviors rather than words; hormonal and biological changes; The increase in physical strength and energy can be counted among the other causes of this situation. Theft, destruction of the environment and property, rape, assault and murder are the leading illegal acts done by young people. The number of young people who commit such crimes is increasing year by year in various Western countries, especially in the USA. There is a difference between the sexes in terms of the tendency to such crimes. Men are more likely to be involved in such acts; however, the male/female ratio is gradually decreasing.

Recent research has demonstrated the importance of peers and peers in the initiation and maintenance of criminal behavior in general. A recent longitudinal study found that over a three-year period, young people with a delinquent friend group exhibited this type of behavior at a higher rate than those without such a friend group. Studies on youth gangs, which are especially common in socioeconomically underdeveloped urban areas, show that although they increase the tendency to crime, if it is a well-organized group with a low tendency to violence, it can help satiate the natural tendencies of the youth such as personal value, peer acceptance and self-protection. has been revealed. Generally, young people who are prone to crime have lower intelligence levels than other young people. Personal factors also influence attitudes towards crime, including acts of aggression and violence. It has been shown by researches that such young people are difficult to adapt, make few friends, show uncalculated, impulsive behaviors and oppose authority, starting from the early school years.

The best predictor of youth tendency to crime and violence is the form of relationship with parents. This type of behavior is observed more frequently in the youth period in children who were neglected in childhood, who were subjected to an excessively strict or unbalanced discipline based on physical punishment and beating. Mutual hostility in the parent-child relationship, lack of family cohesion, rejection of the child, and indifference of the parents are common situations in the families of such young people.

It is thought that social and cultural factors rather than mental problems play a greater role in the delinquency of young people in low-income groups.

Political actions and violence in youth

People experience great transformations in their mentality during their youth. With the entry into the youth period, the thinking process shifts from the concrete to the abstract; the condition of humanity, moral and ethical values, and religion are dealt with radically and anew. Young people between the ages of 18-24, when intelligence is at its busiest, question everything. They begin to reflect on issues such as themselves, the world, the reasons for existence. The young person is not dependent only on the apparent reality. Think about possible alternatives. This brings up a questioning, including how this world could be otherwise. Negation is one of the most typical features of this period and covers all areas of life, including political elections. All the values ​​that parents hold can become negative. “Who am I?” and “where do i come from and where am i going?” questions begin to be asked. The youngster begins to examine the rules and discuss the principles behind these rules. With this way of thinking, which is abstract, fictional, and sometimes not directly related to practice, young people may find the existing system in moral, religious and political fields inadequate and therefore turn to radical oppositions. They may accuse adults of hypocrisy because they see the obvious and obvious mistakes but do not correct them. As he gets older, he may experience disappointments as the difference between the ideal world he imagines and the real world becomes clear.

During youth, the world outside the family and groups of friends take a more primary position. The young person evaluates himself through the eyes of his peers; Deviating from the norms of the fellowship is undesirable and undermines self-confidence. For many people, adolescence is also a period in which moral development and values ​​are shaped. In the period of abstract thought, not only the interests of the family, but also the interests of society and humanity come into play.

Another feature of the youth period is that young people can easily exhibit dangerous and risky behaviors. For this reason, it is always up to them to defend the society; The striking force of the society has been the youth, they have come to the fore. Similarly, we always see young people in ideological, national struggles and sports matches. Youth years are the ages when physical bodily strength reaches its peak. According to statistics, accidents, especially motor vehicle accidents, take the first place among the causes of death for young people. This situation is thought to be related to the tendency to engage in easy risk-taking behaviors. The easy endangerment of young people is explained by reasons such as extreme reactions to cover up their feelings of inadequacy, similarity and conformity with the group, and seeing themselves as very strong, invulnerable and immortal.

When we list these features of the youth period one after another, the picture becomes clearer; Young people’s questioning attitudes towards the established order, their radical and uncompromising way of thinking, the importance they attach to friendship, their full of energy and their easy endangerment explain why they are at the forefront of political struggles. Especially when such a struggle becomes the norm, that is, when other young people do the same, the rules of the friend group become important for the young person, regardless of the attitude of the family, the young person can take part in political groups. The choice of the political group that the young person belongs to requires a separate discussion that also takes into account individual characteristics.

After the 80’s, the political participation of young people decreased, at least apparently. For one thing, the political struggle for the whole of society in general became less important. In the case of politicians, the whole policy became negative, emphasizing that they are “people who are not worth fighting for”. Political identity became more secondary in people’s self-definition. This inevitably affected young people as well. For almost all young people before the 1980s, political choice was a prominent component of their personal identity. Almost some of the young people had no occupations outside of this field: school, education, profession, friendship relations, relations with the opposite sex, hobbies, special pleasures, intellectual activities other than art and current politics always remained in the background. Therefore, when combined with other characteristics of the youth period, the years before the 80s created a very favorable environment for young people to turn to “political violence”.
Undoubtedly, the political interests and activities that gained momentum during the youth period are necessary for the renewal and change of our world as well as for the healthy development of the youth. Moreover, when such interests and activities are carried out in a peaceful environment, they are the real antidote to violence in the youth period. However, for a healthy personal development, it is necessary for the young person to show a certain presence, mature and make choices in all areas other than the political ones. The youth of our country, from the 1980s until recently, acted with the ease of getting rid of the previous oppressive and tiring hegemony of the political field. As the energies are now poured there, the influence of the youth has been felt more in art, trade and economy, and Yuppis have appeared everywhere. Being political, taking a stand for a certain political group has ceased to be a norm, and young people have both been able to make their own choices more easily and have more options. However, it is not possible to say that this positive atmosphere is valid for the whole country. On the contrary, while the depoliticization process was going on, on the other hand, the balance of the society that stood on the edge of the knife was turned upside down, impoverishment, migration, sudden cultural change, stimulus bombardment from the technomedia world came to the fore for the society and therefore the youth. Going to chaos has destroyed the opportunities of most of the young people to make a choice in the face of life, to form a healthy individual identity, and has accumulated their anger. The resulting picture determined the characteristics of the period between 1990-1996; especially the hopeless and lumpen sections of high school youth, who are at a more conservative level of moral development, have brought up the brutal attacks and gang murders on each other for purposeless and trivial reasons.

After 1996, the politicization of youth is on the agenda again. Since there is no politicalization and a peaceful political struggle environment, the tendency towards “political violence” spreads rapidly from high schools to high schools.

Even if we don’t want our society to be the scene of new youth slaughter, if we don’t give enough thought to why our young people resort to violence and don’t take appropriate measures, we must at least admit that we have adopted the position of spectators and be ready for the responsibilities of this crime.


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