Moral reasoning of adolescent male offenders

Comparison of sexual and nonsexual offenders

Peter J. Ashkar, Dianna T. Kenny*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    This study compares the moral reasoning abilities of juvenile sexual and nonsexual offenders using a novel methodology that explores responses to questions addressing morality in a variety of offending contexts. Seven sexual and nine nonsexual adolescent male offenders from a maximum security detention facility in New South Wales, Australia, are presented with and asked to discuss a variety of hypothetical offending situations involving sexual and nonsexual offences. It is hypothesized that the quality of moral reasoning employed by offenders will be impaired in offending contexts in which they have prior experience. Responses are assessed using a modified version of the Moral Judgment Interview Standard Issue Scoring Manual. Responses by sexual offenders in sexual offending contexts and by nonsexual offenders in nonsexual offending contexts were dominated by preconventional reasoning, and both groups employed a greater use of conventional reasoning in noncongruent offending contexts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)108-118
    Number of pages11
    JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007


    • Adolescent offenders
    • Moral development
    • Moral reasoning
    • Nonsexual offenders
    • Sexual offenders

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