Moral disengagement - Relation to delinquency and independence from indices of social dysfunction
AuthorKiriakidis, S. P.
This article explores the relations of moral disengagement with several legal, institutional, and demographic characteristics of young offenders held in custody. The sample consisted of 152 randomly selected male young offenders from the largest young offenders' institution in Scotland. The age of the sample ranged from 16 to 21 (M = 18.9, SD = 1.3). The respondents took part in a structured interview asking about several sociodemographic characteristics, and they completed the Moral Disengagement Scale. The sample in the study scored significantly higher on moral disengagement in comparison to a community sample. Higher moral disengagement was related to the offenders' families receiving help from a social worker; the expectation of an unstable living situation after custody; drug use before custody; and intention of drug use after custody. However, the lack of relation of moral disengagement to most of the social, family, school, employment, legal, and lifestyle characteristics of the sample suggests that moral disengagement is an independent variable exerting an influence on juvenile delinquent behavior over and above the social characteristics of juvenile delinquents.