Resolving Ethical Dilemmas
Outcome 4: Apply the Code of Ethics to specific ethical dilemmas in early childhood education.
Consider the following four ethical dilemmas. Read through each dilemma and reflect on the questions provided. Use the Code of Ethics from the Canadian Child Care Federation (Doherty, 2003) and the Code of Ethical Conduct from NAEYC.
You are an early childhood teacher at a local centre. Your children love many activities at the centre, but the dress-up centre seems to be the favourite of the group. One afternoon in the dramatic play area, the children are participating as usual, and one boy is dressed in a feather boa, high heels, and a tiara. His mother arrives as he is is proudly modeling his outfit. The child’s father looks disapprovingly at you and tells his son to get undressed, as it is time to go. You ask if there is a problem. As father and child walk out the door, dad says to you, “He is a little boy, you know!” (Lytwyn, 2001, p. 10).
As a novice early childhood educator at a preschool centre, you are excited to work with children. You spend hours at home going through all the resources you compiled while an ECE student. You find lots of appropriate ideas to jump start theme-related circle times and numerous children’s play experiences. Each evening, you are busy organizing for the next day’s fun. Work is so rewarding! However, some staff aren’t as open and friendly as you would have hoped and others trivialize your efforts.
One day in the staff room, you talk with a colleague who saw how enthralled the children were with your activity: painting with the ice cubes. Laughing, you ask if she noticed how reluctant Jamila was to touch the ice initially, and then how she could hardly tear herself away when it was time to move on. The ECE complains, “You’re making other staff look bad by being such an eager beaver.” She comments that it won’t be long before you are doing your activities on the spur of the moment. “You’ll figure out the real world of ECE . . . just takes some of you longer than others.” You are taken aback and don’t know how to respond. You feel hurt and angry.
You really believe that developing and operating a good quality program doesn’t happen on its own; it takes work. You remember your instructors saying that you need to reflect on your practices to creative positive learning for children. That’s part of being a professional. Yet later in the week, you notice that no one else seems to prepare for their group the way you do. You begin to think, “Maybe that other staff was right . . . maybe it is different in the REAL world of ECE” (Mayer, 2002, p. 15).
You have recently opened a licensed family group home in a small town, where everyone knows everyone. The town has no had licensed child care since the early nineties and families are not used to their “babysitters” having parent handbooks or policies. You have a family who uses your services on a very part-time basis. On their third month of using child care, they did not pay their bill. Your policy states that a $20 late fee will be charged for bills not paid by the fifth working day of the following month. This family is very influential in the community and the mom talks a lot to other moms in the town. Their bill is only $47.50. Do you charge the late fee? (Interaction, 2003, p. 16).
You are the director of a pre-school centre attended by Dean, age 4. Dean exhibits aggressive behaviours towards some of the staff and children that are escalating in intensity. As the centre director, you have spoken to Dean’s parents and have asked for their help in dealing with this. However, they have not attended any scheduled meetings and avoid talking to you and other staff about their son’s behaviour. At the latest staff meeting, one of the staff said, “Dean must leave the centre. I can’t take it anymore.” What would you do? (Forbes, 2005, 21).