In this investigation, the moral development of physically abused (N = 28), neglected (N = 26), and nonmaltreated (N = 28) five-year-old children from low socioeconomic backgrounds was examined through observational measures of prosocial behaviors, moral transgressions, and emotions associated with moral development. Findings showed that physically abused children engaged in more stealing behaviors, whereas neglected children engaged in significantly more cheating behavior and less rule-compatible behavior compared to nonmaltreated children. In addition, maltreatment status differences interacted with gender on several of the moral paradigms. Physically abused girls displayed significantly less guilt and fewer donation behaviors than neglected girls. The clinical implications for maltreated children's moral development are discussed, and targeted interventions are suggested.
- Moral transgressions
- Prosocial behaviors