Knowing the Right Thing to Do
13 Annalise points to red marks on baby Tia’s back as clear evidence of
abuse. Which of the following should you do:
• Call the Department of Social Services immediately?
• Call Tia’s mother to ask about the red marks?
• Decide whether to report or not based upon what the mother
says? • Co-report the incident with Tia’s mom?
Tia’s mom explains she used “coining,” a healing tradition passed
down in her Hmong family, to help Tia recover from a budding cold.
Mom adds proudly: “Tia is so much better this morning! We are so
relieved.” What effect does this information have on your mandated report-
ing decision? What is the right thing to do? Do you apply letter-of-the-
law principles and report the mother regardless? You may decide to
counsel the mother that although you understand her good intentions
and appreciate her cultural heritage, other mandated reporters, like her
pediatrician’s office, might not. When we take into account spirit-of-
the-law and letter-of-the-law factors, our decision becomes more com-
plex. Fortunately, this is where the Code of Ethics offers guidance.
NAEYC’s Code begins with Core Values, those principles that con-
stitute the essence of our professional responsibilities. When we take
these principles to heart, we become more confident and competent at
thin-slicing our decisions. We agree 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 supported in
the context of family, culture, community, and society;
• 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 (NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct, 2005).
With core values, we can make a more informed and intuitive deci-
sion about baby Tia and her family.