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Teaching Ethics

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published on November 22, 2014

Kathleen Bailey, James David Ballard

Teaching Ethics to Criminal Justice Students
Focusing on Self Identify, Self Awareness, and Internal Accountability

This paper describes what could be labeled “best practices” in teaching ethics to those entering the criminal justice, criminology and related professional fields. The underlying focus of the discussion is on the “self” and reflects the beliefs of the authors in the pedagogic thesis that ethics awareness begins with individual social actors and their existing world views. Thereafter, self awareness of ethical dilemmas and internal safeguards against unethical behavior are defined by those same individuals. Lastly, the process continues when the social actor gains an internalized, self-generated, accountability for one’s own actions. That self accountability may morph over time, depending on circumstances, but individual social actors remain effectively protected from unethical behavior as they master their own ethical challenges and live within their individualized sense of ethical purpose. To make these arguments the authors describe the background for an effective learning paradigm for the study of ethics that can be used in university level criminal justice courses, criminology classes, and police training sessions. This pedagogic approach is theoretically informed and used in classes designed to teach ethics to criminal justice professionals, criminology students who are entering a variety of professions.

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