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While there is growing understanding about children’s moral reasoning for social inclusion and exclusion, we know little about how children reason specifically about the inclusion of aggressive children in school settings. To investigate children’s decisions about such inclusion and how they justified those decisions, this study reports data from 172 children interviewed in Year 1 (female = 85, male = 87), between the ages of six and seven and 155 children (female = 78, male = 79) who were interviewed again in Year 2. The children’s responses to scenarios regarding inclusion or exclusion of an aggressive child (who is bossy and pushes others around) in their play at school demonstrated that they were more likely to include an aggressive child in their play in Year 2 than in Year 1 of elementary school. They were also more likely in Year 2 to provide justifications that demonstrated a deeper understanding of the reasons for children’s aggressive behaviour at school. These data suggest that children’s school experiences may contribute to their ability to access multiple perspectives when reasoning about inclusion of others. Findings suggest the need to consider more closely how contextual experiences influence young children’s moral reasoning.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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