Date of this Version
Heroism Science: An Interdisciplinary Journal (ISSN 2573-7120), Vol. 5 No. 2 (2020) pp. 1-25.
Heroism training programs originated in the mid-2000s with the goal to “Train everyday heroes” (Heroic Imagination Project, 2017). Most participants of these programs are students between the ages of 10 and 20. Anecdotal and empirical evidence suggests that these programs may create more courageous and prosocial people (Heiner, 2018; Kohen & Sólo, 2019), however there is very little discussion in the emerging academic field of heroism science about the potential ethical concerns of training minors to be heroes (Beggan, 2019; Franco & Zimbardo, 2016; Franco et al., 2017). With the growth of heroism science scholarship, it would be wise to examine and offer best practices for the ethical training of heroism with minors.
Heroic action is inherently risky, and while training programs currently discuss mortality and risk assessment, minors have not developed the neural or cognitive capacity to assess risks as adults can. Furthermore, the content and goals of heroism training may go against schools’ and parents’ wishes. Heroism training programs also have the potential to make heroism seem glamorous, which could lead some participants to seek out, or create, situations requiring heroic action. The paper discusses these, and other, ethical concerns in training minors to be heroes. The paper concludes with a variety of best practice recommendations for heroism training programs working with minors including; obtaining parent consent for training, working to improve minors’ risk assessment abilities, domain specific training, and involving parents and other relevant stakeholders in the heroism training process.