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February 2018Vol. 19, No. 1Parents' and Preschool Workers' Perceptions of Bullying in Early Childhood

Bullying can have negative, long-term psychological and social consequences, and children bullied in preschool are at no less risk than older children of experiencing these outcomes.

A recent article in Child Care in Practice highlights a study that explores and compares parents' and preschool workers' perceptions of bullying with respect to preschool workers' competence, parent-preschool collaboration, and strategies for ending bullying in order to assess the extent of the collaboration between preschools and families.

The study comprised 141 parents and 81 preschool workers from six preschools and focused on children between the ages of 3 and 6 years. These participants were asked to complete an 80-item, Likert-scale-based survey designed to cover a range of aspects of bullying, including attitudes toward bullying and the children involved, the definition of bullying, personal and professional experiences with bullying, and the various approaches to dealing with bullying. Statements in the survey included "I believe that staff in my preschool use effective strategies to deal with bullying" and "I can work well together with parents in cases of bullying." Respondents were asked about the degree to which they agreed or disagreed with the statements.

Based on the responses to the survey, both parents and preschool staff tended to be confident in the preschool's competence in handling bullying among students. Further, respondents showed they had a positive perception of collaboration between parents and preschool staff. However, there was some disagreement regarding a few of the strategies for addressing bullying, with seeking assistance from psychological services or other support groups outside of school being more recommended by preschool workers and telling bullies to "say they're sorry" being more supported by parents. In addition, parents' higher exposure to bullying (i.e., bullying parents have witnessed or reported to them by their children) was associated with more negative views of collaboration and competence, and parents having little to no exposure to bullying was associated with them being more likely to report they were unable to evaluate the competence of preschools and preschool staff.

The authors concluded that efforts by preschools to use evidence-based strategies for the prevention of bullying, and communicating these efforts to parents, can improve the quality of the collaboration between educational personnel and parents and bolster the impact of bullying interventions during these early school years.

"Parents' and Preschool Workers' Perceptions of Competence, Collaboration, and Strategies for Addressing Bullying in Early Childhood," by David Lansing Cameron and Velibor Bobo Kovac (Child Care in Practice, 23), is available at