RIGHT AND WRONG FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF 8- AND 12-YEAR-OLD CHILDREN: AN EXPLORATORY ANALYSIS

  • Kira Ammann University of Bern
Keywords: justice and injustice, children’s and human rights, interviews with children, child perspective, dilemmas, Lawrence Kohlberg

Abstract

Understanding rights not only means knowing what is permitted by law and what is not, but also being aware of and knowing one’s own rights as a human being. This analysis explores how children understand right and wrong, how they gain moral orientations and a sense of justice, and whether they are aware of human rights and children’s rights, and if so to what extent. Twelve children aged either 8 or 12 participated in an interview on a dilemma story, as pioneered by Kohlberg, and were also asked about children’s rights and human rights. Qualitative content analysis showed that the majority used moral judgements based on fairness and justice, taking the view that behaviour that is wrong should be duly punished. Eight children were able to make substantive statements on human rights; of the eight, three also had some knowledge of children’s rights. There were differences between the types of arguments used by the two age groups. There were also some differences between boys and girls, but they were negligible. In German-speaking countries there is little empirical research on children’s rights. Few studies have focused on the topic of human rights from the perspective of educational science, and there is also little research on moral concepts and children’s rights. What follows is therefore a first attempt to link two neglected research topics.

Author Biography

Kira Ammann, University of Bern
Research assistant and PhD candidate in the Department of General and Historical Educational Science at the University of Bern, Institute of Educational Science, Department of General and Historical Educational Science
Published
2018-05-15