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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Dr Beng Huat See

See, B.H. (2018). Understanding the moral values of young people and the key influences on their character development. Interdisciplinary Education and Psychology 2(2): 1.

Author(s) from Durham


The aim of the paper is to explore young people’s perceptions of moral values and the kind of influences that shape their behaviour. The study is based on the perceptions of 1,997 children in England at the point of transition from primary to secondary school. Data was collected from interviews, questionnaire surveys, and documentary analysis. The findings suggest that young people have a good understanding of moral values. They value trust and honesty above all values. Tolerance and courtesy were less valued. Young people also demonstrate a high level of moral awareness and an understanding of what makes a "good" person. Primary pupils were more likely than secondary pupils to trust their teachers and see them as important moral agents. This is important for children who come from homes where there is a lack of positive role models. If schools and teachers are to play a role in the character development of young people, efforts have to be made to build that trust and respect. And teachers themselves could help by modelling the kind of behaviour they want to see in the young people. Future research could examine how teachers’ behaviour can influence young people’s concept of morality.