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date: 14 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Research shows that participation in youth development programs (like arts, leadership, technology, and activism programs) is related to moral-ethical development. This chapter describes how programs support this development. Part I examines three program ingredients that faciliate youth’s ethical learning: a culture of youth empowerment and principled relationships; youth’s experience of respectful, trusting, multifaceted relationships with adult staff; and program activities in which youth are moral actors and deliberate on ethical judgements and action. Part II examines developmental processes in three ethical domains: (1) youth develop responsibility by accepting substantive program roles (costume manager, committee chair) and taking ownership over role obligations, (2) youth develop an ethic of social justice through structured activities that cultivate awareness of their own and others’ lived experiences and that build skills for social action, and (3) program leaders respond to youth’s transgressive behavior (lying, fighting, bullying) by employing their trusting relationship to support ethical reflection and learning.

Keywords: youth development, youth programs, youth work, moral development, ethical development, adolescence, responsibility, social justice, transgressions

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