Publication date 11 September 2000


Through the Moral Maze

a quantitative study of young people's values

Sheena McGrellis, Sheila Henderson, Janet Holland, Sue Sharpe, & Rachel Thomson

'Taking drugs, smoking, drinking, robbing', sex and teenage pregnancies ­ teenagers are in a world apart from the perspective of adult moral panic. But are they? What do young people value? What or who do they recognise as sources of moral authority? How do they cope with the range of different value systems available to them in contemporary society? Who are their role models, and why? And just how different are their values from those of their parents?
These are the questions addressed in Through the Moral Maze, a report of the responses of 2000 young people to a questionnaire on morality and values. The questionnaire was part of a larger study which aimed to document and understand the moral landscapes of young people aged 11-16 from different and varied communities across England and Northern Ireland. The responses to the questionnaire reported here give us insight into their views on a range of ethical and moral issues, details of their media consumption and leisure activities, and their hopes and fears for the future.
The young people describe typical teenage dilemmas, for example 'There are a lot of teenage pregnancies and a lot of girls never know what to do - should they keep it? Give it up for adoption or abort it? If they did keep how would they support it, who would they tell? Should the father have a say? All these options have to be taken into consideration, and any one can change your life forever', and 'Underage drinking, some young people only drink because the rest of the mates are doing it and to make them look big and hard.'
Their views on baseline attitudinal questions are compared to those of other young people and adults across Europe, and similarities and differences are examined in relation to gender, social class, age, religious affiliation, location and ethnicity.

ISBN 1 872767 32X paperback 96 pp £7.95

Read the opening (you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Sheena McGrellis, Senior Research Fellow, School of Education, University of Ulster
Sheila Henderson, Research Associate, Social Sciences Research Centre, South Bank University
Janet Holland, Professor of Social Research, South Bank University
Sue Sharpe, Research Associate, Institute of Education, University of London
Rachel Thomson, Senior Research Fellow, Social Sciences Research Centre, South Bank University


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