To-day it is observed that because of want of proper moral development at home and moral education at schools, lots of violence and crime are committed. To prevent and control crime at all spheres moral education is essential.
Development of Conscience helps in moral development. Conscience and moral development is based upon satisfactory parent child relationship. Identification with parents and maternal warmth is positively correlated with strength of conscience.
Boys with accepting fathers are more likely to develop strong conscience than boys who are rejected by their father. Rudiments of conscience and morality though appear in the preschool age they develop very rapidly during childhood. The ego centric and pleasure oriented behaviour of the child gradually changes by the training of parents and teachers.
Socialization process also helps in the moral education of the child. The acceptable and unacceptable activities are categorized by the society as dos and don’ts respectively. The child is taught to do this and not to do that. Further family, school, neighbourhood, temple, gods and goddesses, religious institutions, friends and peers contribute a lot to moral education.
He learns to do things for others, sacrifices others and shares others difficulties. He learns “this” one should not do like “telling lies” and that one should do like “telling truth”.
He is taught to behave according to the rules, regulations, customs and traditions like showing respect to seniors, praying God every day, not to tell lies or steal any body’s belongings, permission to be taken before taking anyone else’s toys or belongings, etc. to be kind to domestic animals, old and physically disabled persons.
By developing the habit and attitude to grow socially acceptable values, moral education takes place. From 4 to 5 years, till middle childhood learning of morality and conscience takes place in a generalized way.
Besides the home environment and school environment, social environment, electronic media like radio, T.V., printed media like newspapers, books and journals influence the morality of the child. Particularly when attitude develops out of an experience, it has lasting and permanent effect on moral development.
Imitation and advice also helps in moral education. Parents and teachers with strong conscience and moral values help positively in the moral education of the child. Parenting style, child rearing practices, advice and conduct of parents and teachers promote moral education.
In the present world because of deterioration in moral education simple lies, stealing, robbery, violence, murders have spread through-out the society. At this critical period it is the responsibility of every-body to make combined effort for the moral education of children. Moral education to grown up adults is mostly of no use as the personality grows very fast during the first 5-6 years of life and then slows till adolescence.
According to Mussen, a high degree of conscience is promoted by the use of love oriented disciplinary techniques in which love is given or with held to reward or to punish the child. Praise, reinforcement and reasoning are associated with high conscience and moral development of children.
When the affectionate mother threatens the disobedient and misbehaving child that she would withdraw her love from him or sleep separately the child is most likely to develop high conscience. Identification based on fear of loss of love of an otherwise affectionate and caring parent leads to appearance of conscience and morality.
But if the mother is cold and less caring to the child, withdrawal of affection has no effect on the conscience development of the child.
He cannot be controlled by withdrawing something which rarely exists. According to Sears and Maccoby (1957) children had a well developed conscience when their mothers were relatively warm towards them and withdrew their love when they misbehaved.
Morality refers to obeying the instructions of family members, group and society, to go by social norms, rules, and regulation, to go by legal procedures i.e., not to behave illegally. For such behaviour the entire society is benefitted and in the absence of it the whole society is destructed leading to social disorganization.
With the development of conscience and morality a person can distinguish between right and wrong, justice and injustice, honesty and dishonesty, truth and lie, legal and illegal and their repercussion on the society. A value oriented honest person will not be dishonest. He will not go against law and legal sanctions.
He will not be a corrupt person. Unless motivated and provoked by environmental and situational factors, he will not commit a crime. Before committing an action against law and social sanctions he will think a lot.
Therefore to prevent and irradiate crime and violence and immoral acts from the society every person needs moral education not only by teaching through books, but also through one’s own actions. It is normally observed that children of parents with high conscience and strong moral development never commit illegal and anti-social activities.
Since immoral people have weak conscience they have no respect for human values, discipline, social customs, rules, regulations and traditions. Morality and discipline are also positively related. A criminal or anti-social person may not be quite disciplined keeping other factors constant.
Morality has also positive relationship with social and human values. Before 12 years age, morality and conscience of the child become very rigid. The concept of truth and lie, justice and injustice is developed between 9 to 12 yrs. in a general way. By the age of 12 years rigid attitudes on morality start becoming flexible.
In other words, he changes his views on justice-injustice, truth-lie, and honesty-dishonesty keeping in view the circumstances. At the age of 11-12 years he realizes that under certain situations if someone tells a lie (like to save a honest friend) or goes against rules like killing somebody for self protection or protection of weaker class persons of the society, it will not be considered injustice at least by his own conscience.
A conscience being the greatest judge of a person, directs him at every moment. By the age of 12 years a boy or a girl behaves like an adult person so far as morality, conscience, justice and human values are concerned. During this period, he emphasizes a lot on religion, moral values and honesty.
According to piaget a younger child usually obeys what parents say regarding morality, truth, lie, justice, injustice, good, bad, acceptable and unacceptable. But an older child changes his attitudes according to the views, attitudes and standards of the group members, with whom he interacts.
However, if the morality and values of the group are contradictory to the morality and values of parents, then conflict arises which makes it difficult for adjustment.
The child usually follows the values and standards of his parents, but finally adopts the standards which his close friends and companions accept most. If the conscience and moral standard of person do not develop properly during middle childhood, he may be engaged in anti-social activity. He tries to fulfill all his repressed and suppressed sexual and aggressive desires without any restriction and inhibition.
He becomes impolite and misbehaves with people, whom he should have respected otherwise. In contrast when the super ego and conscience are properly developed the person learns to behave according to social norms and standards. Such a person hardly becomes a criminal or an anti-social person. He feels so guilty for some minor mistakes or anti-social behaviour that he hardly repeats it.
Kohlberg opines that without cognitive development abstract thinking and moral standards do not develop properly. For complete development of conscience and morality cognitive maturity and learning are necessary. Secondly, unless there is intellectual development shifting or change cannot take place from rigid norm to flexible norm.
This is required for knowing the intention or motivation behind a conduct. Suppose, a person commits a murder, for a psychologist, murder itself is not as important as the motivation or intention behind murder, for deciding justice or injustice, wrong or right.
When somebody attempts to kill a person to save his own life or a lady kills a man through broken glass bottle who tried to rape her or outrage her modesty or someone killed another person out of vindictiveness all these can be considered differently being based on different intentions.
There is a difference in the motive of these three killers and all the three cannot be perceived on equal footings. A man steals some money for his mother’s treatment or a child who remained without food or 2-3 days steals a few pieces of bread. These otherwise illegal activities cannot be considered illegal or wrong because of the motive behind such crimes.
This the child cannot realize unless he is intellectually matured. People argue that under these circumstances, there was no other way but to steal, because the society did not come to their rescue.
However, some people having strong conscience and moral principles prefer to die hungry or allow their mother to die without treatment. But this type of decision is not desirable. Stealing and committing a crime under high pressure should not be looked down or stigmatized by society.
However, the view on morality differs from culture to culture though there are some standard morals internationally recognized by every society of the world and universally found in all cultures.
Review of Kohlberg’s view on morality indicates that moral maturity does increase with age (Rest-1968). Several longitudinal studies suggest that as people grow older increasing percentage of them enter high levels of moral development.
It is found that older people perform puja for longer duration everyday and spend in religions and moral discussions. Moral reasoning does often increase in complexity with age. Moral reasoning is strongly affected by a number of environmental factors like amount of formal education, culture, parenting style and child rearing practices.
Crime and anti-social behaviour can be prevented and controlled to a great extent by imparting moral education during childhood and middle childhood. Erosion of moral and ethical values, has become a major concern for social reformers. History shows that our fore fathers were committed to moral and human values of high standard worthy of emolution.
But subsequently there has been degradation in moral standard and values of the society due to western influences, disintegration of joint family system and love for money. The Golden age then crimes and violence’s were very few was when women could move on the roads in the midnight without fear. It can comeback only with the concerted efforts of all concerned in the society.
Parents, students and government all make the teachers responsible for decline of moral stands of youths leading to rise in crime and violence. Though the roots of moral development start in the family, teachers play a great role in moral education. The students spend the maximum time with the teachers and peers during childhood and middle childhood when the moral standards start to stabilize in his personality.
In India, the standard of moral education has so much deteriorated during the last few decades that it has very unfavourable effect on the moral standard of students. The teachers who teach have no time and desire to build a honest nation with honest human beings.
They are so over burdened with their selfish interests that they hardly get time to teach morality to students. Their own behaviour are not worthy of emolution. They are not ideal images for the students.
A person who does not have any morality what the students will learn from him? Hence the teachers particularly in primary schools and High Schools should change their moral standards to reduce crime and violence and build a better society. Lack of morality has been the cause of mass malpractice in schools and college. Cyber Crimes
When I was a college student in the fifties, malpractice in colleges of Orissa was about 2 to 3 percent. But now many examinations are cancelled due to mass malpractice. Students adopt to malpractice in a large scale and many parents and teachers also encourage it.
Is it not due to the low moral standard of the parents, teachers as well as students? Malpractice has been declared as a cognizable offence by the state government. Hence it is a crime. But how many students are legally punished because of this crime? Probably less than one percent.
Even sexual crime is due to low moral standard. People with high moral values never go for sexual crimes. Corruption at all levels in India is due to moral degradation. It is therefore imperactive that moral degradation is one of the fundamental causes of crime and violence in the society.
Studies show that a society with exemplary moral standard and reasonable conscience does not act criminally or violently keeping other factors constant.
Subjects who score low in the scale of morality are susceptible to more crimes and delinquencies than subjects who score high in the same scale. Therefore under similar circumstances persons of low moral standard produce more crimes and tell more lies than subjects of high moral standard. In a family of two sons, one son was very honest, out spoken, had respect for social norms and traditions, laws and regulations.
The other son went off the beaten track in the influence of bad company. He was a liar, used to steal money from the pocket of his father and purse of his mother, was addicted to smoking and drugs. He did not obey the social norms and laws of the land.
He gradually went astray and started committing small thefts like pick pocketing, and other petty thefts to maintain his style of life. He came from a well to do high upper middle class working parents.
Both the father and mother were highly educated and they said they took more or less equal care of their children. This is an instance where in the same family two brothers behave differently because of low moral standard.
It is therefore essential to provide moral education to the youngsters during childhood and middle childhood. Parents should be careful about this and they should change their conduct if they are immoral. Through their own action they should give moral education to their children. If parents have no morality and respect for moral values children will also be like that.
Secondly Schools should give more attention to moral education. The children must be taught with examples what is the utility of being honest and moral. Thirdly moral education should be included in the school curriculum starting from primary to High School level. Earlier wordings relating to morality were being written on the walls of class-room. But to-day most of the schools have given up this practice.
When I was Director, Elementary Education Orissa, in 1990’s inspected about 85 to 90 percent of the elementary schools of the state and found that in 75 to 80 percent schools no “moral sayings” were written on the walls or black-boards. Then and there I instructed the Head Master and the teachers to start the old practice. I still remember an incident regarding the immoral conduct of teachers.
Once I made a surprise visit to a U.G.M.E. School. I went straight to the Head Master’s office where I found that the Head Master was smoking a cigarette putting both legs on the table, in front of a group of four students, aged 5-7 years.
Many other examples are there where students imitate immoral acts from the teachers. Incidents are there where the teacher or tuition master absconds with a minor girl with the intention of sexual assault or rape. Such teachers should be thrown away from their jobs and should be given exemplary punishment so that others will not follow him.
Any society with wealth, richness and economic power but devoid of moral standard gets dis-organised sooner or later. Morality puts a brake on any way ward illegal activity. A society with human, social and moral values is organised and devoid of crime and violence.
In a peaceful society all the developmental works continue in full speed whereas in a society packed up with violence, agitation and crime the entire energy of government is wasted on controlling law and order situation, in searching the offenders and rehabilitating the victims of crime. Hence, top priority should be given to moral education in any society, which is an important part of value education.