Ethical Scenarios

 Ethics Position Statement2011_09202013update ( 

Prior to beginning work on this assignment, read the 

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NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct and Statement of Commitment (Links to an external site.)


Those who work with young children often face difficult ethical decisions. You are realizing your center has various situations that compromise the code, but unfortunately your lead teacher and a few others within the center don’t see the issues the same way you do. They have given you the opportunity to justify your rationale and create a potential plan to rectify the situations.

Review the scenarios below and choose two situations to rationalize and resolve for your lead teacher and colleagues. Use the 

NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct and Statement of Commitment (Links to an external site.)
 as a guide to make recommendations and identify rationale. There are four areas of ethical responsibilities: children, families, colleagues, and community and society. Be sure to select scenarios from different areas.


#1: Your center has a rule that no outside food is to be brought in for snack or lunch for a child under any circumstances. While your weekly menus often support the diverse needs of the learners, you now have a student who has extreme sensitivities and allergies. When trying to create the menu, you are realizing that the other students would need to eat unbalanced meals and would begin lacking the proper nutrition. You have asked your teacher about this rule to see if it can be changed for this situation and she said no.

#2: One child is having a hard time adjusting to class and his mom would like to stay a little bit longer in the beginning of class to help him get familiar and comfortable. You were allowing this and it was working very well, however your director has now told you that this is not allowed. Parents are required to drop off their kids and leave immediately after.

#3: A little girl is having issues with another little boy in the class. They often fight with each other and recently she told you that he always tries to touch her and watch her in the bathroom and she doesn’t like it. You took this very seriously, however your director told you that she is only five years old so it’s nothing to worry about. You believe you should contact both parents in this situation, but the director argues that the parents will think you aren’t doing a good job watching them.

#4: You have a few children in your class with various cultures and religions. Some of these conflict directly with the holiday calendar that your teacher has created. You’ve asked your teacher if you can modify the activities to help bring in all of the cultures of the families and she turned you down. One parent has let you know that they have issues with Christmas due to their own religion, however your teacher said, “This is the way it’s always been.”

#5: You proposed curriculum surrounding manners and helping others. You believe this curriculum is important for the age you are working with, as a lot of the kids don’t seem to understand the basic principles. Your teacher isn’t open to the change, but you are seeing more and more selfish behaviors and think this type of curriculum could really make an impact on their lives. Most of your kids come from families where parents work at least two jobs, so you believe they just don’t have the time to teach their kids these basic principles.

To complete your assignment, identify each component below for each scenario:

· Summary of the scenario and justification that proves how this situation is unethical (rely heavily on the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct and Statement of Commitment here and point to specific principles within the code).

· Identify appropriate resources to use for the scenario and the individuals necessary to inform.

· Create a plan to not only solve the problem now, but also to prevent it from occurring again in the future.

In your paper,

· Include an introduction and a conclusion.

· Summarize both scenarios and the specific code numbers that were compromised within the scenarios.

· Identify the proper individuals necessary to inform.

· Determine appropriate resources for both scenarios.

· Explain the steps necessary to problem solve each scenario.

The Ethical Scenarios Paper

· Must be three to four double-spaced pages in length (not including title and references pages) and formatted according to 

APA Style

 (Links to an external site.)

 as outlined in the Writing Center’s 

APA Formatting for Microsoft Word

 (Links to an external site.)


· Must include a separate title page with the following:

· Title of paper in bold font

· Space should appear between the title and the rest of the information on the title page.

· Student’s name

· Name of institution (University of Arizona Global Campus)

· Course name and number

· Instructor’s name

· Due date

· Must utilize academic voice. See the 

Academic Voice

 (Links to an external site.)

 resource for additional guidance.

· Must include an introduction and conclusion paragraph. Your introduction paragraph needs to end with a clear thesis statement that indicates the purpose of your paper.

· For assistance on writing 

Introductions & Conclusions

 (Links to an external site.)

 as well as 

Writing a Thesis Statement

 (Links to an external site.)

, refer to the Writing Center resources.

· Must use at least three scholarly sources in addition to the course text.

· The 

Scholarly, Peer-Reviewed, and Other Credible Sources

 (Links to an external site.)

 table offers additional guidance on appropriate source types. If you have questions about whether a specific source is appropriate for this assignment, please contact your instructor. Your instructor has the final say about the appropriateness of a specific source for a particular assignment.

· Must document any information used from sources in APA Style as outlined in the Writing Center’s 

APA: Citing Within Your Paper

 (Links to an external site.)

· Must include a separate references page that is formatted according to APA Style as outlined in the Writing Center. See the 

APA: Formatting Your References List

 (Links to an external site.)

 resource in the Writing Center for specifications.

Code of Ethical Conduct
and Statement of Commitment

A position statement of the National Association for the Education of Young Children

NAEYC recognizes that those who work with young
children face many daily decisions that have moral and
ethical implications. The NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct
offers guidelines for responsible behavior and sets forth a
common basis for resolving the principal ethical dilemmas
encountered in early childhood care and education. The
Statement of Commitment is not part of the Code but is a
personal acknowledgement of an individual’s willingness to
embrace the distinctive values and moral obligations of the
field of early childhood care and education.
The primary focus of the Code is on daily practice with
children and their families in programs for children from birth
through 8 years of age, such as infant/toddler programs,
preschool and prekindergarten programs, child care centers,
hospital and child life settings, family child care homes,
kindergartens, and primary classrooms. When the issues
involve young children, then these provisions also apply to
specialists who do not work directly with children, including
program administrators, parent educators, early childhood
adult educators, and officials with responsibility for program
monitoring and licensing. (Note: See also the “Code of Ethi-
cal Conduct: Supplement for Early Childhood Adult Educa-
tors,” online at
pdf. and the “Code of Ethical Conduct: Supplement for Early
Childhood Program Administrators,” online at http://www. )

Core values

Standards of ethical behavior in early childhood care
and education are based on commitment to the follow-
ing core values that are deeply rooted in the history of
the field of early childhood care and education. We have
made a commitment to
• Appreciate childhood as a unique and valuable stage of
the human life cycle
• Base our work on knowledge of how children develop
and learn
• Appreciate and support the bond between the child
and family
• Recognize that children are best understood and sup-
ported in the context of family, culture,* community, and
• Respect the dignity, worth, and uniqueness of each
individual (child, family member, and colleague)
• Respect diversity in children, families, and colleagues
• Recognize that children and adults achieve their full
potential in the context of relationships that are based
on trust and respect

* The term culture includes ethnicity, racial identity, economic
level, family structure, language, and religious and political beliefs,
which profoundly influence each child’s development and relation-
ship to the world.

Copyright © 2011 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children


Revised April 2005,
Reaffirmed and Updated May 2011

Endorsed by the Association for Childhood Education International and

Southern Early Childhood Association

Adopted by the National Association for Family Child Care

2NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct Revised May 2011

Conceptual framework

The Code sets forth a framework of professional respon-
sibilities in four sections. Each section addresses an area
of professional relationships: (1) with children, (2) with
families, (3) among colleagues, and (4) with the commu-
nity and society. Each section includes an introduction
to the primary responsibilities of the early childhood
practitioner in that context. The introduction is followed
by a set of ideals (I) that reflect exemplary professional
practice and by a set of principles (P) describing prac-
tices that are required, prohibited, or permitted.
The ideals reflect the aspirations of practitioners.
The principles guide conduct and assist practitioners in
resolving ethical dilemmas.* Both ideals and principles
are intended to direct practitioners to those questions
which, when responsibly answered, can provide the
basis for conscientious decision making. While the Code
provides specific direction for addressing some ethical
dilemmas, many others will require the practitioner to
combine the guidance of the Code with professional
The ideals and principles in this Code present a
shared framework of professional responsibility that
affirms our commitment to the core values of our field.
The Code publicly acknowledges the responsibilities
that we in the field have assumed, and in so doing sup-
ports ethical behavior in our work. Practitioners who
face situations with ethical dimensions are urged to seek
guidance in the applicable parts of this Code and in the
spirit that informs the whole.
Often “the right answer”—the best ethical course of
action to take—is not obvious. There may be no readily
apparent, positive way to handle a situation. When one
important value contradicts another, we face an ethical
dilemma. When we face a dilemma, it is our professional
responsibility to consult the Code and all relevant par-
ties to find the most ethical resolution.

Section I

Ethical Responsibilities to Children

Childhood is a unique and valuable stage in the human
life cycle. Our paramount responsibility is to provide
care and education in settings that are safe, healthy,
nurturing, and responsive for each child. We are commit-

ted to supporting children’s development and learning;
respecting individual differences; and helping children
learn to live, play, and work cooperatively. We are also
committed to promoting children’s self-awareness, com-
petence, self-worth, resiliency, and physical well-being.


I-1.1—To be familiar with the knowledge base of early
childhood care and education and to stay informed
through continuing education and training.

I-1.2—To base program practices upon current knowl-
edge and research in the field of early childhood educa-
tion, child development, and related disciplines, as well
as on particular knowledge of each child.

I-1.3—To recognize and respect the unique qualities,
abilities, and potential of each child.

I-1.4—To appreciate the vulnerability of children and
their dependence on adults.

I-1.5—To create and maintain safe and healthy settings
that foster children’s social, emotional, cognitive, and
physical development and that respect their dignity
and their contributions.

I-1.6—To use assessment instruments and strategies
that are appropriate for the children to be assessed,
that are used only for the purposes for which they
were designed, and that have the potential to benefit

I-1.7—To use assessment information to understand
and support children’s development and learning, to
support instruction, and to identify children who may
need additional services.

I-1.8—To support the right of each child to play and
learn in an inclusive environment that meets the needs
of children with and without disabilities.

I-1.9—To advocate for and ensure that all children,
including those with special needs, have access to the
support services needed to be successful.

I-1.10—To ensure that each child’s culture, language,
ethnicity, and family structure are recognized and val-
ued in the program.

I-1.11—To provide all children with experiences in a
language that they know, as well as support children
in maintaining the use of their home language and in
learning English.

I-1.12—To work with families to provide a safe and
smooth transition as children and families move from
one program to the next.

* There is not necessarily a corresponding principle for each ideal.

Copyright © 2011 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children

3NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct Revised May 2011


P-1.1—Above all, we shall not harm children. We shall
not participate in practices that are emotionally dam-
aging, physically harmful, disrespectful, degrading,
dangerous, exploitative, or intimidating to children.
This principle has precedence over all others in
this Code.

P-1.2—We shall care for and educate children in positive
emotional and social environments that are cognitively
stimulating and that support each child’s culture, lan-
guage, ethnicity, and family structure.

P-1.3—We shall not participate in practices that discrimi-
nate against children by denying benefits, giving special
advantages, or excluding them from programs or
activities on the basis of their sex, race, national origin,
immigration status, preferred home language, religious
beliefs, medical condition, disability, or the marital
status/family structure, sexual orientation, or religious
beliefs or other affiliations of their families. (Aspects of
this principle do not apply in programs that have a law-
ful mandate to provide services to a particular popula-
tion of children.)

P-1.4—We shall use two-way communications to involve
all those with relevant knowledge (including families
and staff) in decisions concerning a child, as appropri-
ate, ensuring confidentiality of sensitive information.
(See also P-2.4.)

P-1.5—We shall use appropriate assessment systems,
which include multiple sources of information, to
provide information on children’s learning and devel-

P-1.6—We shall strive to ensure that decisions such as
those related to enrollment, retention, or assignment
to special education services, will be based on mul-
tiple sources of information and will never be based
on a single assessment, such as a test score or a single

P-1.7—We shall strive to build individual relationships
with each child; make individualized adaptations in
teaching strategies, learning environments, and cur-
ricula; and consult with the family so that each child
benefits from the program. If after such efforts have
been exhausted, the current placement does not meet
a child’s needs, or the child is seriously jeopardizing
the ability of other children to benefit from the pro-
gram, we shall collaborate with the child’s family and
appropriate specialists to determine the additional
services needed and/or the placement option(s) most
likely to ensure the child’s success. (Aspects of this

principle may not apply in programs that have a lawful
mandate to provide services to a particular population
of children.)

P-1.8—We shall be familiar with the risk factors for and
symptoms of child abuse and neglect, including physi-
cal, sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse and physical,
emotional, educational, and medical neglect. We shall
know and follow state laws and community procedures
that protect children against abuse and neglect.

P-1.9—When we have reasonable cause to suspect child
abuse or neglect, we shall report it to the appropri-
ate community agency and follow up to ensure that
appropriate action has been taken. When appropriate,
parents or guardians will be informed that the referral
will be or has been made.

P-1.10—When another person tells us of his or her
suspicion that a child is being abused or neglected, we
shall assist that person in taking appropriate action in
order to protect the child.

P-1.11—When we become aware of a practice or situa-
tion that endangers the health, safety, or well-being of
children, we have an ethical responsibility to protect
children or inform parents and/or others who can.

Section II

Ethical Responsibilities to Families

Families* are of primary importance in children’s de-
velopment. Because the family and the early childhood
practitioner have a common interest in the child’s well-
being, we acknowledge a primary responsibility to bring
about communication, cooperation, and collaboration
between the home and early childhood program in ways
that enhance the child’s development.


I-2.1—To be familiar with the knowledge base related to
working effectively with families and to stay informed
through continuing education and training.

I-2.2—To develop relationships of mutual trust and cre-
ate partnerships with the families we serve.

I-2.3—To welcome all family members and encourage
them to participate in the program, including involve-
ment in shared decision making.

* The term family may include those adults, besides parents, with
the responsibility of being involved in educating, nurturing, and
advocating for the child.

Copyright © 2011 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children

4NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct Revised May 2011

I-2.4—To listen to families, acknowledge and build upon
their strengths and competencies, and learn from
families as we support them in their task of nurturing

I-2.5—To respect the dignity and preferences of each
family and to make an effort to learn about its struc-
ture, culture, language, customs, and beliefs to ensure
a culturally consistent environment for all children and

I-2.6—To acknowledge families’ childrearing values and
their right to make decisions for their children.

I-2.7—To share information about each child’s educa-
tion and development with families and to help them
understand and appreciate the current knowledge base
of the early childhood profession.

I-2.8—To help family members enhance their under-
standing of their children, as staff are enhancing their
understanding of each child through communications
with families, and support family members in the con-
tinuing development of their skills as parents.

I-2.9—To foster families’ efforts to build support net-
works and, when needed, participate in building
networks for families by providing them with oppor-
tunities to interact with program staff, other families,
community resources, and professional services.


P-2.1—We shall not deny family members access to their
child’s classroom or program setting unless access is
denied by court order or other legal restriction.

P-2.2—We shall inform families of program philosophy,
policies, curriculum, assessment system, cultural prac-
tices, and personnel qualifications, and explain why we
teach as we do—which should be in accordance with
our ethical responsibilities to children (see Section I).

P-2.3—We shall inform families of and, when appropri-
ate, involve them in policy decisions. (See also I-2.3.)

P-2.4—We shall ensure that the family is involved in sig-
nificant decisions affecting their child. (See also P-1.4.)

P-2.5—We shall make every effort to communicate effec-
tively with all families in a language that they under-
stand. We shall use community resources for transla-
tion and interpretation when we do not have sufficient
resources in our own programs.

P-2.6—As families share information with us about their
children and families, we shall ensure that families’ input
is an important contribution to the planning and imple-
mentation of the program.

P-2-7—We shall inform families about the nature and
purpose of the program’s child assessments and how
data about their child will be used.

P-2.8—We shall treat child assessment information con-
fidentially and share this information only when there
is a legitimate need for it.

P-2.9—We shall inform the family of injuries and inci-
dents involving their child, of risks such as exposures
to communicable diseases that might result in infec-
tion, and of occurrences that might result in emotional

P-2.10—Families shall be fully informed of any proposed
research projects involving their children and shall
have the opportunity to give or withhold consent
without penalty. We shall not permit or participate in
research that could in any way hinder the education,
development, or well-being of children.

P-2.11—We shall not engage in or support exploitation
of families. We shall not use our relationship with a
family for private advantage or personal gain, or enter
into relationships with family members that might im-
pair our effectiveness working with their children.

P-2.12—We shall develop written policies for the protec-
tion of confidentiality and the disclosure of children’s
records. These policy documents shall be made avail-
able to all program personnel and families. Disclosure
of children’s records beyond family members, program
personnel, and consultants having an obligation of
confidentiality shall require familial consent (except in
cases of abuse or neglect).

P-2.13—We shall maintain confidentiality and shall re-
spect the family’s right to privacy, refraining from dis-
closure of confidential information and intrusion into
family life. However, when we have reason to believe
that a child’s welfare is at risk, it is permissible to share
confidential information with agencies, as well as with
individuals who have legal responsibility for interven-
ing in the child’s interest.

P-2.14—In cases where family members are in conflict
with one another, we shall work openly, sharing our
observations of the child, to help all parties involved
make informed decisions. We shall refrain from becom-
ing an advocate for one party.

P-2.15—We shall be familiar with and appropriately refer
families to community resources and professional sup-
port services. After a referral has been made, we shall
follow up to ensure that services have been appropri-
ately provided.

Copyright © 2011 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children

5NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct Revised May 2011

P-3A.3—We shall exercise care in expressing views
regarding the personal attributes or professional
conduct of co-workers. Statements should be based on
firsthand knowledge, not hearsay, and relevant to the
interests of children and programs.

P-3A.4—We shall not participate in practices that dis-
criminate against a co-worker because of sex, race, na-
tional origin, religious beliefs or other affiliations, age,
marital status/family structure, disability, or sexual

B—Responsibilities to employers

I-3B.1—To assist the program in providing the highest

quality of service.
I-3B.2—To do nothing that diminishes the reputation

of the program in which we work unless it is violating
laws and regulations designed to protect children or is
violating the provisions of this Code.


P-3B.1—We shall follow all program policies. When we
do not agree with program policies, we shall attempt
to effect change through constructive action within the

P-3B.2—We shall speak or act on behalf of an organiza-
tion only when authorized. We shall take care to ac-
knowledge when we are speaking for the organization
and when we are expressing a personal judgment.

P-3B.3—We shall not violate laws or regulations de-
signed to protect children and shall take appropriate
action consistent with this Code when aware of such

P-3B.4—If we have concerns about a colleague’s be-
havior, and children’s well-being is not at risk, we may
address the concern with that individual. If children
are at risk or the situation does not improve after it has
been brought to the colleague’s attention, we shall re-
port the colleague’s unethical or incompetent behavior
to an appropriate authority.

P-3B.5—When we have a concern about circumstances
or conditions that impact the quality of care and
education within the program, we shall inform the
program’s administration or, when necessary, other
appropriate authorities.

Section III

Ethical Responsibilities to Colleagues
In a caring, cooperative workplace, human dignity is re-
spected, professional satisfaction is promoted, and posi-
tive relationships are developed and sustained. Based
upon our core values, our primary responsibility to
colleagues is to establish and maintain settings and rela-
tionships that support productive work and meet profes-
sional needs. The same ideals that apply to children also
apply as we interact with adults in the workplace. (Note:
Section III includes responsibilities to co-workers and to
employers. See the “Code of Ethical Conduct: Supple-
ment for Early Childhood Program Administrators” for
responsibilities to personnel (employees in the original
2005 Code revision), online at
files/naeyc/file/positions/PSETH05_supp .)

A—Responsibilities to co-workers


I-3A.1—To establish and maintain relationships of re-
spect, trust, confidentiality, collaboration, and coop-
eration with co-workers.

I-3A.2—To share resources with co-workers, collaborat-
ing to ensure that the best possible early childhood
care and education program is provided.

I-3A.3—To support co-workers in meeting their profes-
sional needs and in their professional development.

I-3A.4—To accord co-workers due recognition of profes-
sional achievement.


P-3A.1—We shall recognize the contributions of col-
leagues to our program and not participate in practices
that diminish their reputations or impair their effec-
tiveness in working with children and families.

P-3A.2—When we have concerns about the professional
behavior of a co-worker, we shall first let that person
know of our concern in a way that shows respect for
personal dignity and for the diversity to be found
among staff members, and then attempt to resolve the
matter collegially and in a confidential manner.

Copyright © 2011 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children

6NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct Revised May 2011

Section IV

Ethical Responsibilities to Community
and Society

Early childhood programs operate within the context
of their immediate community made up of families and
other institutions concerned with children’s welfare.
Our responsibilities to the community are to provide
programs that meet the diverse needs of families, to
cooperate with agencies and professions that share the
responsibility for children, to assist families in gaining
access to those agencies and allied professionals, and to
assist in the development of community programs that
are needed but not currently available.
As individuals, we acknowledge our responsibility to
provide the best possible programs of care and educa-
tion for children and to conduct ourselves with honesty
and integrity. Because of our specialized expertise
in early childhood development and education and
because the larger society shares responsibility for the
welfare and protection of young children, we acknowl-
edge a collective obligation to advocate for the best
interests of children within early childhood programs
and in the larger community and to serve as a voice for
young children everywhere.
The ideals and principles in this section are presented
to distinguish between those that pertain to the work of
the individual early childhood educator and those that
more typically are engaged in collectively on behalf of
the best interests of children—with the understanding
that individual early childhood educators have a shared
responsibility for addressing the ideals and principles
that are identified as “collective.”

Ideal (Individual)

1-4.1—To provide the community with high-quality early
childhood care and education programs and services.

Ideals (Collective)

I-4.2—To promote cooperation among professionals and
agencies and interdisciplinary collaboration among
professions concerned with addressing issues in the
health, education, and well-being of young children,
their families, and their early childhood educators.

I-4.3—To work through education, research, and advo-
cacy toward an environmentally safe world in which
all children receive health care, food, and shelter; are
nurtured; and live free from violence in their home and
their communities.

I-4.4—To work through education, research, and ad-
vocacy toward a society in which all young children
have access to high-quality early care and education

I-4.5—To work to ensure that appropriate assessment
systems, which include multiple sources of informa-
tion, are used for purposes that benefit children.

I-4.6—To promote knowledge and understanding of
young children and their needs. To work toward
greater societal acknowledgment of children’s rights
and greater social acceptance of responsibility for the
well-being of all children.

I-4.7—To support policies and laws that promote the
well-being of children and families, and to work to
change those that impair their well-being. To partici-
pate in developing policies and laws that are needed,
and to cooperate with families and other individuals
and groups in these efforts.

I-4.8—To further the professional development of the
field of early childhood care and education and to
strengthen its commitment to realizing its core values
as reflected in this Code.

Principles (Individual)

P-4.1—We shall communicate openly and truthfully
about the nature and extent of services that we pro-

P-4.2—We shall apply for, accept, and work in positions
for which we are personally well-suited and profession-
ally qualified. We shall not offer services that we do not
have the competence, qualifications, or resources to

P-4.3—We shall carefully check references and shall not
hire or recommend for employment any person whose
competence, qualifications, or character makes him or
her unsuited for the position.

P-4.4—We shall be objective and accurate in report-
ing the knowledge upon which we base our program

P-4.5—We shall be knowledgeable about the appropri-
ate use of assessment strategies and instruments and
interpret results accurately to families.

Copyright © 2011 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children

7NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct Revised May 2011

P-4.6—We shall be familiar with laws and regulations
that serve to protect the children in our programs and
be vigilant in ensuring that these laws and regulations
are followed.

P-4.7—When we become aware of a practice or situa-
tion that endangers the health, safety, or well-being of
children, we have an ethical responsibility to protect
children or inform parents and/or others who can.

P-4.8—We shall not participate in practices that are in
violation of laws and regulations that protect the chil-
dren in our programs.

P-4.9—When we have evidence that an early childhood
program is violating laws or regulations protecting
children, we shall report the violation to appropriate au-
thorities who can be expected to remedy the situation.

P-4.10—When a program violates or requires its em-
ployees to violate this Code, it is permissible, after fair
assessment of the evidence, to disclose the identity of
that program.

Copyright © 2011 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children

Principles (Collective)

P-4.11—When policies are enacted for purposes that do
not benefit children, we have a collective responsibility
to work to change these policies.

P-4-12—When we have evidence that an agency that
provides services intended to ensure children’s well-
being is failing to meet its obligations, we acknowledge
a collective ethical responsibility to report the problem
to appropriate authorities or to the public. We shall be
vigilant in our follow-up until the situation is resolved.

P-4.13—When a child protection agency fails to provide
adequate protection for abused or neglected children,
we acknowledge a collective ethical responsibility to
work toward the improvement of these services.

8NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct Revised May 2011

Code of Ethics . Defines the core values of the field and
provides guidance for what professionals should
do when they encounter conflicting obligations or
responsibilities in their work.

Values . Qualities or principles that individuals believe
to be desirable or worthwhile and that they prize for
themselves, for others, and for the world in which
they live.

Core Values . Commitments held by a profession that
are consciously and knowingly embraced by its
practitioners because they make a contribution to
society. There is a difference between personal val-
ues and the core values of a profession.

Morality . Peoples’ views of what is good, right, and
proper; their beliefs about their obligations; and
their ideas about how they should behave.

Ethics . The study of right and wrong, or duty and
obligation, that involves critical reflection on moral-
ity and the ability to make choices between values
and the examination of the moral dimensions of

Professional Ethics . The moral commitments of a
profession that involve moral reflection that extends

and enhances the personal morality practitioners
bring to their work, that concern actions of right and
wrong in the workplace, and that help individuals re-
solve moral dilemmas they encounter in their work.

Ethical Responsibilities . Behaviors that one must
or must not engage in. Ethical responsibilities are
clear-cut and are spelled out in the Code of Ethical
Conduct (for example, early childhood educators
should never share confidential information about a
child or family with a person who has no legitimate
need for knowing).

Ethical Dilemma . A moral conflict that involves
determining appropriate conduct when an indi-
vidual faces conflicting professional values and

Sources for glossary terms and definitions

Feeney, S., & N. Freeman. 2005. Ethics and the early childhood
educator: Using the NAEYC code. Washington, DC: NAEYC.

Kidder, R.M. 1995. How good people make tough choices: Resolv-
ing the dilemmas of ethical living. New York: Fireside.

Kipnis, K. 1987. How to discuss professional ethics. Young Chil-
dren 42 (4): 26–30.

Glossary of Terms Related to Ethics

Copyright © 2011 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children

The National Association for the Education of Young Chil-
dren (NAEYC) is a nonprofit corporation, tax exempt under
Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, dedicated to
acting on behalf of the needs and interests of young children.
The NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct (Code) has been de-
veloped in furtherance of NAEYC’s nonprofit and tax exempt
purposes. The information contained in the Code is intended
to provide early childhood educators with guidelines for work-
ing with children from birth through age 8.
An individual’s or program’s use, reference to, or review
of the Code does not guarantee compliance with NAEYC
Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Per-
formance Criteria and program accreditation procedures. It is
recommended that the Code be used as guidance in connec-
tion with implementation of the NAEYC Program Standards,
but such use is not a substitute for diligent review and appli-
cation of the NAEYC Program Standards.
NAEYC has taken reasonable measures to develop the
Code in a fair, reasonable, open, unbiased, and objective
manner, based on currently available data. However, further

Mary Ambery , Ruth Ann Ball, James Clay, Julie Olsen
Edwards, Harriet Egertson, Anthony Fair, Stephanie
Feeney, Jana Fleming, Nancy Freeman, Marla Israel,
Allison McKinnon, Evelyn Wright Moore, Eva Moravcik,
Christina Lopez Morgan, Sarah Mulligan, Nila Rinehart,
Betty Holston Smith, and Peter Pizzolongo, NAEYC Staff

NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct
2005 Revisions Workgroup

research or developments may change the current state
of knowledge. Neither NAEYC nor its officers, directors,
members, employees, or agents will be liable for any loss,
damage, or claim with respect to any liabilities, including
direct, special, indirect, or consequential damages incurred
in connection with the Code or reliance on the information

9NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct Revised May 2011

* This Statement of Commitment is not part of the Code but is a personal acknowledgment of
the individual’s willingness to embrace the distinctive values and moral obligations of the field
of early childhood care and education. It is recognition of the moral obligations that lead to an
individual becoming part of the profession.

As an individual who works with young children, I commit myself to furthering the
values of early childhood education as they are reflected in the ideals and prin-
ciples of the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct. To the best of my ability I will

• Never harm children.

• Ensure that programs for young children are based on current knowledge and
research of child development and early childhood education.

• Respect and support families in their task of nurturing children.

• Respect colleagues in early childhood care and education and support them in
maintaining the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct.

• Serve as an advocate for children, their families, and their teachers in community
and society.

• Stay informed of and maintain high standards of professional conduct.

• Engage in an ongoing process of self-reflection, realizing that personal characteris-
tics, biases, and beliefs have an impact on children and families.

• Be open to new ideas and be willing to learn from the suggestions of others.

• Continue to learn, grow, and contribute as a professional.

• Honor the ideals and principles of the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct.

Statement of Commitment*

Copyright © 2011 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children

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