An exploratory study of the inner moral voices of adolescent runaway girls

Pao Yue-kong Library Electronic Theses Database

An exploratory study of the inner moral voices of adolescent runaway girls

 

Author: Wan, Shuk-ching Suzanne
Title: An exploratory study of the inner moral voices of adolescent runaway girls
Year: 2000
Subject: Runaway teenagers -- China -- Hong Kong
Girls -- China -- Hong Kong
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: iv, 102 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1541787
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/1572
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to understand the moral reasoning of the adolescents runaway girls during their runaway process. Adolescent runaway problem attracted public concern in recent years and lots of local and oversea researchers studied about the problem. It is found that most researches in runaway tended to focus on identifying the characteristics of runaway adolescents by comparing with the non-runaway adolescents such as age, sex, family background, peer characteristics and school system. They believed that it was the dysfunction of the family system, school system and culture as a whole caused the runaway problem. However, it is found that during the runaway process, the runaway girls are active in making the decision of runaway or not and return home or not. Their mode of moral reasoning influenced their construction of the problems they perceived and their solutions to the problem. Therefore, the focus of this research is different from the previous researches that the attention is put on the moral reasoning of these runaway girls. In the research, the researcher hopes to understand: 1) How do adolescent girls construct the problem when they are facing a family conflict? 2) How do they construct the solution of the problems? 3) How they construct their moral reasoning when they decided to runaway from home? 4) How their runaway behaviours sustain? 5) How they construct their moral reasoning when they decide to return home? In the research, Gilligan's theory of morality of care is adopted in understanding the moral dilemma of the runaway girls. According to Gilligan, there are two modes of moral reasoning: justice and care. People generally based on these two moral reasoning in defining their problems and making decisions. Gilligan found that women and girls are trained to be feminine in personality. They depend on the others for survival. In constructing a moral problem, girls and women would focus on the needs of others as they feared about disconnection with other people. Therefore, they tend to adopt a care perspective in their moral reasoning. For their survival, their voices are suppressed. Results of the study reveal that all informants have considered both justice and care in their moral reasoning. They started from a family situation that the adolescent girls found that they were treated unfairly by their family members. However, fearing that their survival would be threatened, they silent their voices in the family. They started to involve with their peers and made their family members felt discontent. Then, a fight broke out and the girls found that their survivals in the family were threatened. They then runaway from home for an escape and protest. During the runaway process, the girls had to maintain their survivals by pleasing their peers. They involved in wayward behaviours as they did not want to reject their peer's request. Finally, when they found the threat from the family was removed, they returned home. Listening to the girls' voices, the researcher can understand the moral reasoning when they construct problem, to cope with the problem and also see how they progress to one level to another level in Gilligan's theory of morality of care. Though the number of cases is limited in this study, the results of the study are insightful. It gave a new picture to social work practitioners in understanding the runaway girls. Besides, by more in-depth understanding of the needs of runaway girls, more tailor make service could be rendered to this target group.

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