Tips for Parents
Taking a Look at Ethics
Values, Questions & Decision Making
So much growth happens in college. One area in which this is really noticeable is in the area of ethical development. Students may be pondering questions such as: What do I value and why? Why did my parents teach me to…? What should I do about…? What do I want to be and how does this relate to what's important to me in life? These questions are just a few of many that college students ask themselves during their college experience.
Karen Kitchener, a researcher who studies college students, offers five ethical principles as a framework for exploring values and making decisions:
- Do No Harm — Make every effort to avoid psychological and physical harm of others, both intentional and unintentional.
- Benefit Others — Aim to promote the personal growth of others and make a positive contribution to others' welfare.
- Respect Autonomy — Remember that everyone has the right to think, choose and act, as long as their actions do not interfere with the welfare of others. They also have the right to privacy, confidentiality and informed consent.
- Be Just — Demonstrate fair treatment of all individuals and fair distributions of goods, services and rewards.
- Be Faithful — Keep promises and be truthful and loyal in all endeavors.
Ethical Decision Making
As students continue to explore their own personal value system and determine what they believe and why, here are some questions they can ask themselves when making decisions:
- Will anyone be harmed as a result of my choice?
- Will my decision promote a win/win situation for all involved?
- Am I respecting myself and others with my choice?
- How will my decision make me feel about myself?
- How would I feel if my family knew about my choice?
- Is my decision in conflict with any of my values?
Some of these values will evolve as student get older and experience more of the world. That's okay! But, as long as they keep Kitchener's principles in mind, they'll be on the road to making good, fair decisions.
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