This research is to investigate two strategies on themes of bullying in children’s literature. The investigator assessed perception, knowledge, and attitudes of bullying at the preschool level, and to identify the quality of children’s literature with a bullying theme. The reason is to see how useful a bullying theme would support character education with preschool children. The research gathered is from participation responses and a list of quality development appropriate practice literature, with a set of structured, literature-based character education activities to be developed and added to in this paper. The activities support children in identifying strategies appropriately when communicated in a social environment.
Character Education and Bullying Characteristics Prevention
The purpose for this study was to see if bullying themes in children’s literature and a qualitative data collection with young children, for the use of children’s picture books to teach characteristics as bullying prevention for ages 4-year-old’s through 6-year-old preschool children. Upon reading the picture books and doing a character education activity, with a bullying theme, the preschool children developed an understanding with bully characteristics and strategies when dealing with bullying behaviors (Freeman, 2013).
The study includes results from interviews and questioners from preschool children, as well as, annotated bibliography of children’s books with pictures and activities that are useful for the instruction and prevention of bullying behaviors. Greta Freeman (2013) the author of, Character Education and Bullying Prevention and Strategies mentions that “bullying behaviors among young children start happening in preschool classrooms and child-development centers.” This article will focus on two positive educational strategies, “Bullying Prevention.” and “Character Education.” The research strategies in this study are demonstrated with preschool children. Showing how the reputation of character education can outweigh or cancel out the bad reputation of bullying (Freeman, 2013).
Since the 1600s of the necessary education movement, educators and civic leaders have been calling for educational reform. They wanted to reconstruct the schools. School program and improve changes to the overall education for children. The modern day and historical theories for more advantages and methods for children to be valuable citizens in society are being debated in colleges, by educational professionals, and politicians (Freeman, 2013). There were questions concerning the curriculum, either being a moral standard, or academic from those who worry about the education of children. In the reform areas of the curriculum, professionals have expressed philosophies of education, teaching strategies, techniques, programs, and ideas (Freeman, 2013).
There are two goals for this study, (1) demonstrating benefits of the educational professionals having the knowledge of the definition and circumstances related to character education and bullying prevention, (2) being able to share the implement of the activities that are based on knowledge and commitment to help preschool children to be successful in school environments and society beyond school property (Freeman, 2013).
Character education is a self-explained expression based on, teaching core character values. This type of learning is a process for learning core ethical values and enables children to understand the four dimensions of character education. Those include moral; civic; intellectual; and performance (Freeman, 2013). The character education movement began in the twentieth century when Americans wanted children to learn the traditional values, as well as, re-establishing these values back in the school system (Freeman, 2013). According to Freeman, (2013) “character education is the instruction of fundamental ethical values and encouragement of good behavior in the classroom.” Researchers and philosophers have advocated for moral and character education for our schools. Educators have an obligation inside and outside of school, to nurture ethical ideas to those they meet (Freeman, 2013).
Bullying and bullying prevention have been written and talked about for over the past twenty years by parents and educators. Writers presenting the research have been several among secondary and middle school children but, with preschool children, there has been very little (Freeman, 2013). Bullying has been defined as a repeating behavior of aggressiveness to physically or mentally intimidate others. Unfortunately, the name calling and arguing continuously can lead to physical bullying, social exclusion, or rumors being spread Freeman, 2013). Research has shown that bullying behaviors start taking place as young as two-years-old. Parents are often unaware of this taken place, and the lack of adult intervention or supervision seems to be consistent (Freeman, 2013). While bullying is becoming prevalent in schools and preschool children, schools are looking for character education to educate and teach preventative strategies to help children who may be in a bullying situation (Freeman, 2013).
Study Design and Method
The researchers used both qualitative and quantitative data collection with preschool children ages four-years to six-years, to identify what they knew and felt about bullying through quality children’s literature with pictures (Freeman, 2013). The research attempted to answer three open-ended questions, which is useful to explore with the interest of the children. According to Depoy ; Gitlin, (2015) “a group approach is used when interactions of a discussion help to bring better understanding than single independent learning.” The open-ended questions that were asked during a group setting were to allow the children to give their ideas and feelings about bullying (Freeman, 2013). The three questions that research attempted to answer were, (1) what knowledge, perceptions and attitudes are held by preschool children regarding bullying? (2) is the children’s literature related to bullying for preschool children developmentally appropriate and interesting? (3) how does character education support bullying education through children’s literature? (Freeman, 2013).
Sampling and Data Collection
The researcher used 30 full-time students between ages four and six-year-old at three private preschool facilities. Six of the participants were four-year-old, twenty-one of the participants were five-year-old, and three participants were six-year-old. There were twelve males and eighteen females. The diversity of representation included three Asians, six African American, and thirteen Caucasians (Freeman, 2013).
The researcher designed the interview questions and questionnaires, to establish the validity content. The post and pre-knowledge, attitude questionnaires, and post-reading interview instruments were reviewed and approved by three certified preschool teachers, two doctorate child development majors, and one parent who is a participant in the study field. The instruments used included a short answer and open-ended questions, and the Likert scale. The researcher and researcher assistant read aloud questions, and their responses were transcribed, due to the reading ability and attention span of the participants (Freeman, 2013).
Procedural Rigor and Data Analysis
The researcher supported the rigor by using an undergraduate research assistant, who investigated the perception, knowledge, and attitudes of bullying with four through six-year-old participants. Strategies of the participants for dealing with a bullying situation were also used for data analysis (Freeman, 2013).
The first part of the study took place over a twelve-week period during one summer at three different preschool facilities. The second part of the research was independent fieldwork, completed by both the researcher and the research assistant. Their goal was to examine developmentally appropriate children’s literature picture books that were available through bookstores and libraries that were focused on bullying. Then, after finding over a hundred books based on bullying, social, and moral character questionnaires, interviews, and activities were developed. The lessons were then created into character education on bullying and bullying situations (Freeman, 2013). The data analysis showed that twenty-six children out of thirty could adequately give characteristics and/or examples of bullying and said bully is being mean, a hitter, and a biter. When the children were asked what they would do if they saw someone being bullied, twenty-eight children said they would tell an adult (Freeman, 2013).
Freeman (2013), did not indicate anything about a theoretical framework used for this study. Theoretical frameworks that are typical to understand for addressing bullying include the ecological systems framework, cognitive behavioral, social learning, attribution, lifestyles exposure and resiliency frameworks. Mishna, (2012) explains that the complexity of bullying demands several theoretical lenses to be used in helping researchers to understand this phenomenon and to inform intervention strategies, effective prevention, and programs. The ecological systems theoretical framework is an umbrella within the complex factors along with interactions that influence bullying behaviors that can be examined and addressed. Several theories can apply with the ecological systems framework at different times, either through simultaneously or sequentially (Mishna, 2012).
Therefore, it would be appropriate to assume that Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory could be used because it explains how a child’s environment affects how they develop. The ecological theory framework helps to review the data collection in bullying characteristics prevention through character education. The microsystems such as violence in the family or the lack of parental monitoring, socializing with peers, exposures of the community and the attitudes and the climate of teachers and students at school contribute to bullying in young children. The interaction between the components within the microsystem is referred to the mesosystem, which brings insight on how the contexts from character education experience for young children can learn how to prevent bullying.