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Bullying and Moral Development

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Delanna Harris

on 18 July 2014

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Transcript of Bullying and Moral Development

Lawrence Kohlberg theory of Moral Development is divided into three levels:
Preconventional: Where judgement is based solely on a person's own needs and perceptions

Conventional: Where the expectations of society and laws are taken into account

Post Conventional: Where judgements are based on abstract, more personal principles of justice that are not necessarily defined by society's laws (Woolfolk,100)
Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development
Gilligan's Theory
Moral reasoning is related to both cognitive and emotional development (Woolfolk, 100). Major criticisms of Kohlberg's theory are that it is biased in favor of American men.

Since his theory, Carol Gilligan proposed a different sequence of moral development which placed less emphasis on self interest and focused more on personal relationships. The highest level of morality, based on Gilligan's sequence, are having principles pertaining to responsibility and care for all people.
Carol Gilligan's Sequence of Development
Student Agression

How can educators help students establish safe connections with their peers inside, and outside, of the classroom?

In what ways do student's inappropriately use technology?

How can educators combat aggressive and bullying behavior?
Guiding Questions
In applying moral development theory to classrooms, it is important to keep in mind the kind of environment that students are growing up in today.

Teachers are responsible for creating a moral atmosphere in their classrooms that help students healthily navigate moral reasoning.

In this presentation, I will be highlighting the relationship that technology has with moral development on today's adolescents and how educators are using technology to create moral environments in their classrooms.
Moral Development in Education
Technology, Bullying and Moral Development
by Delanna Harris
Adolescents Use of Social Media
In a study measuring the five different types of personal information found on teen's social media profiles, the results showed an increase between the years 2006 and 2013.

91% post a photo of themselves, up from 79% in 2006.
71% post their school name, up from 49%.
71% post the city or town where they live, up from 61%.
53% post their email address, up from 29%.
20% post their cell phone number, up from 2%.
At this point, I have discussed Moral Development theory by Lawrence Kohlberg and how it has since deviated to accommodate the ideas of Caren Mulligan. Her theory includes morality that focuses more on personal responsibility and relationships to others.

When putting this theory into practice in this new age of technological advancement, it is important for educators to remember that creating a moral environment is not a simple task, because student's are facing problems that did not exist before.
Aydin, Selami. "A Review of Research on Facebook as an Educational Environment." Educational Technology Research and Development 60.6 (2012): 1093-106. Web.

Collinson, Vivienne. "Intellectual, Social, And Moral Development: Why Technology Cannot Replace Teachers." High School Journal 85.1 (2001): 35. Education Research Complete. Web. 16 July 2014.

Kueny, Maryellen T. "An Analysis of School Anti-bullying Laws in the United States." Middle School Journal 43.4 (2012): 22-31. JSTOR. Web. 10 July 2014.

Lawrence, Gloria, and Frank D. Adams. "For Every Bully There Is a Victim."American Secondary Education 35.1 (2006): 66-71. JSTOR. Web. 10 July 2014.

Patchin, Justin W., and Sameer Hinduja. "Cyberbullying and Self-Esteem*." Journal of School Health 80.12 (2010): 614-21. Web.

Works Cited
A part of classroom management is making sure that students feel that they are in a safe environment that helps them learn and build connections with their teacher and classmates.

Moral Development theory is put into practice when teachers deal with students who exhibit aggressive behavior. Children internalize moral rules and principles of the authority figures who have guided them. (woolfolk 104) So basically, students rely on parents and teachers, two principle authority figures in their lives, to shape their moral values.
Bullying and Self-Esteem
For every bully, there is a victim. Every day 160,000 students stay home from school to avoid being bullied, and 30% of those bullied have brought weapons to school (Lawrence and Adams).

Cyberbullying and Self Esteem
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, educators began to recognize that low self-esteem was one of the primary predictors of many adolescent problems that directly and indirectly affected school health by impacting the overall academic and behavioral performance of students. (Patchin and Hinduja)
Bullying has always been a crucial problem in schools, but recent studies prove the detrimental effect it has on student's mental health. In a study from the year 2007, which sampled over 1900 middle school students from 30 different schools, it was found that a moderate and statistically significant relationship exists between low self-esteem and experiences with cyberbullying. (Pachin and Hinduja)
Teachers and Technology
Information technology is changing people's thinking as profoundly as the printing press changed the course of history more than five centuries ago (Collinson).

With the rise of technology, teacher's owe it to students of the technological age to make valid attempts at incorporating technology into lesson plans. Cell phones, laptops and other devices that have internet access do not have to be seen as distractions in the classroom. Educators can use these devices as educational tools.

This youtube clip features a teacher who wanted to teach a lesson on internet safety by showing her students how powerful social media sites are.
A Lesson in Posting
Facebook as an Educational Tool
Facebook was founded in 2004, so studies pertaining to using it as an educational tool are relatively new.

The site is meant to network between friends, family and peers, but recent studies have found that Facebook has the potential to be an educational environment.

Research has indicated that Facebook can positively affect classroom practices and student involvement. Studies on the educational benefits of social networking also focus on specific areas such as social learning, e-learning, environmental learning, business, art, and chemistry education.


The significance in teacher's embracing social media, like Facebook, is to help students navigate social media appropriately. Young adults are tasked with building their self-concept's in an environment that asks them to manage a real life persona, and an online one. By taking student's constant use of technology and applying it to school curriculum, students would be able to learn how to properly navigate and use social media in a healthy way and the new phenomenon, known as cyberbullying, would be less of an issue.

Twitter as an Educational Tool
Anti-Bullying Laws
As of August 31, 2010, 43 states had statutes or regulations that specifically addressed bullying in the schools...Half the states do not mention outcomes for the bully or victim. At the other extreme, five states - Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Utah - reach the highest rubric level by requiring a range of disciplinary consequences as well as referral of both bully and victim to mental health and counseling services, as appropriate (Kueny and Zirkel)
In line with Moral Development theory, students who bully are not morally developed enough to care about their victims. Bullying is at it's highest point in grades 6-10. Gilligan theorizes that students can reach the level of morality where they care about others feelings. Anti-bullying laws are an important part of building an environment that enforces morality. These laws and anti-bullying policies across the nation allow for students to take responsibility for their actions.
Cyberbullying Death
In 2003, Ryan Halligan, a 13 year old boy from Vermont, committed suicide because of bullying he faced both online and in real life. Ryan is one of many teenage suicides that was caused by bullying from classmates. With proper education on how to use social media safely, deaths like Ryan's can be avoided.

You can read more about Ryan's story here at :

Cyberbullies feel powerful behind the anonymity of a harmful message or text. In this new age of technology, student's moral development depends on creating an environment that provides consequences for such behavior and has policies that keep bullying behavior from being cultivated.
Teaching against Cyberbullying
This video hosted by Common Sense Educators provides a look into what teachers may be faced with when it comes to Cyberbullying.
This video lists a few ways for teachers to be creative and get students to use Twitter, a popular social media site, as a tool for education.
The video above features Ryan Halligan's father, who has made it his mission in life to speak about bullying and suicide prevention.
Bullying behavior includes pushing, shoving, name calling and taunting. This type of bullying is referred to now as Traditional Bullying, because in recent years the new phenomenon known as Cyberbullying has become a growing problem.
As the picture on the right suggests, technological advancements make it easy for teachers to monitor students on various devices, making it easy to incorporate technology into curriculum.
In Conclusion...
Creating a moral environment is crucial in a student's developing years.

Students in grades 6-10 experience the most bullying, these are the years where creating a moral environment that would teach student's how to appropriately interact with their peers would curb the amount of bullying being done, and may even stop altogether with time. As Gilligan's theory on morality suggests, students need to have their morals and values have more of an emphasis on caring about others.

Technology does not have to be a class distraction, but a tool that can enhance student's learning. In conjunction with using social media as an educational tool, student's will learn more about how to use technology safely. Internet and technology safety entails knowing what's appropriate to post, message and share on the internet.

Cyberbullying happens because adolescents do not comprehend the power of words. Cell phones, laptops and other devices that help perpetuate cyberbullying should be monitored by authoritative figures, such as teachers and parents.

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