The Effects of Victim Awaress Versus Decision-Making Enhancement Training on the Moral Development, Moral Agency, and Behavior of Adolescent Offenders

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Title: The Effects of Victim Awaress Versus Decision-Making Enhancement Training on the Moral Development, Moral Agency, and Behavior of Adolescent Offenders
Author: Blackburn, Charles Flint
Advisors: Dr. Stanley Baker, Committee Chair
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of two short-term group interventions with adolescent offenders. The Victim Awareness Course (VAC) was designed to help adolescents understand the multiple ways victims are impacted by offenses. The Life Skills Course (LSC) focused on skill development ranging from anger management to decision-making skills. Each intervention approached rule-breaking behavior from different perspectives. From a moral development perspective, lower levels of moral development reflect self-interest and lack of perspective for others. From a social cognitive theory perspective, delinquent behavior is attributed to both internal and external factors by which adolescents morally disengage prior to committing an offense. Examples of these mechanisms are displacement of responsibility and dehumanization of others. A quasi-experimental pretest-posttest design was used to compare effects of the newly implemented VAC intervention with an existing LSC intervention. Fifty-three adolescents, referred to either the VAC or LSC interventions, participated in the pretest. Each course consisted of seven sessions over a one-month period, and two trained counselors facilitated the interventions. A total of 23 VAC participants and 10 LSC participants completed the posttest measures. The preliminary results indicated that there were no overall differences between groups at pretest. Primary results indicated that there were no significant differences between the groups at posttest for all dependent variables. Post-hoc analyses of each intervention separately revealed a significant decrease in both rule-breaking behavior and aggressive behavior, as well as an increase in moral maturity with VAC participants. Conversely, LSC participants demonstrated a decrease in mechanisms of moral disengagement from pretest to posttest. The findings provide preliminary support that the VAC intervention is a comparable intervention to the life skills intervention. A post hoc correlation analysis of pretest scores found that there were strong relationships between mechanisms of moral disengagement, rule-breaking behavior, and aggressive behavior. Weaker relationships were found between moral development and behavior, as well as behavior and individual mechanisms of moral disengagement. These findings indicated that the VAC intervention mediated the relationship between behavior, moral development, and mechanisms of moral disengagement from pretest to posttest.
Date: 2006-12-14
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Counselor Education
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/4685


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