Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours


School of Education


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Dr Luke Saker


This study examined the perceptions of year three children of their first experience of the Sacrament of Penance within the Archdiocese of Perth in light of contemporary developmental research. In the Archdiocese of Perth, the Catholic Church's present practice is to prepare students to receive Penance in Year 3 when they have reached the "age of reason' (7 years). The theology behind the Catholic Church's decision to administer Penance at the age of reason is also investigated. The work of developmental psychologists, particularly Kohlberg and Fowler, underpins this investigation of the cognitive, moral and spiritual development of the sample population. Students who had reached the age of reason and had recently received Penance at coeducational Catholic Primary schools were surveyed, and interviewed in order to reveal their perceptions regarding sin, penance and reconciliation. Students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds were selected for the study. The findings of the descriptive research indicated minor differences in students coming from varying socio-economic groups.