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What values are parents communicating to their children about war and peace? Ruby Pentsil-Bukari and Judith A. Myers-Walls Purdue University.

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Presentation on theme: "What values are parents communicating to their children about war and peace? Ruby Pentsil-Bukari and Judith A. Myers-Walls Purdue University."— Presentation transcript:

1 What values are parents communicating to their children about war and peace? Ruby Pentsil-Bukari and Judith A. Myers-Walls Purdue University

2 Abstract This study explored values in parents’ explanations of war and peace to children and the relationships between parents’ values and their children’s. Fifteen parents and 20 of their children were surveyed using a structured questionnaire about war, peace, and terrorism. Their children participated in semi- structured interviews. After a qualitative analysis of parent answers, values in parents’ responses were used as sensitizing concepts to examine children’s responses for the presence of those themes. Twenty- two value themes in parents’ responses were grouped into 8 overarching categories. All 8 categories were found in both parent and child responses.

3 Objectives Attendees will learn of values parents communicate to children about war and peace. Attendees will learn of values represented in children’s responses about war and peace Attendees will learn of relationships in parent- child values relative to war and peace

4 Background Part of the parental socialization role = passing on values. Studies say by at least age 6 or 7 children know some things about war and peace. The earliest study that looked at parent-child communication about war and peace (Myers-Walls, Myers-Bowman, & Pelo, 1993) surveyed only parents with hypothetical questions such as “what would you say to your child if he/she came and asked, “What is war/peace?” Very few studies have investigated a relationship between parents’ conceptions of war and peace and their children’s understanding of these concepts,

5 Research Questions What is the relationship between values in what parents report they would say and values represented in their children’s descriptions of war and peace? How does that relationship vary by child’s age?

6 Theoretical Framework Lev Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory and his construct of Zone of Proximal Development Adult-child interaction on the intermental plane becomes internalized into the child’s intramental plane Social context guides cognitive development The parent “scaffolds” information within the child’s zone of proximal development to move the child to a higher level of competence

7 Methods Existing data set Convenience sampling in Indiana, Idaho, and Colorado Parents completed questionnaires; children were interviewed 9 to 14 months after 9/11 attacks

8 Sample (see Table 1 for details) 15 parents, matched with at least one child in the study 20 children aged families 25 matches 3 religious groups: Peace Church, Muslim, Other

9 Parent Questions If your child came to you tonight and asked, “What is war?” what would you say? (Fill in your response. Use other side if necessary.) If your child came to you tonight and asked, “What is peace?” what would you say? (Fill in your response. Use other side if necessary.)

10 Hawk/Dove Attitude Scale (Likert scale SA  SD) Sometimes war is the best solution to international problems. All wars are sin/evil. Sometimes killing is justified. The lives of all persons are equally valuable. There probably will be a nuclear war in my lifetime. There probably will be a nuclear war in my child’s lifetime. There is nothing an individual person can do to avoid a large-scale war. The best way to avoid war is through military strength and mutual deterrence. The best way to avoid war is through disarmament. Four items related to a current conflict.

11 Child Questions (questions repeated for peace) Do you know what war is? What can you tell me about war? If someone who didn’t know anything about it asked you about war, what would you say? Prompts: Other words that mean the same thing What happens in war Who is involved in war Why is there war How does war start/end What happens because of war Is war good or bad

12 Analysis Parent answers to war and peace questions analyzed together 2-phase data-reduction process Open coding Axial coding Verification through peer examination Parents grouped by attitude scale scores Parent themes used as sensitizing concepts for coding child answers Child themes compared across 3 age groups: 4-7 years, 8-11 years, years

13 Results: Parent value-related themes (see Table 2 for quotes) 1. Respecting different points of view 2. Respecting one another 3. Embracing diversity 4. Living in harmony 5. Co-existing with other people 6. Not hurting others on purpose 7. Having good inter-group and interpersonal relations with people 8. Resolving conflicts through alternate means other than via war 9. Resolving differences 10. Using words rather than weapons to resolve conflicts 11. Resolving disagreements without hurting

14 Results: Parent value-related themes, part Using reason and working hard at reasoning 13. Giving people what they want and need 14. Embracing peace 15. Showing love and compassion 16. War is bad 17. Avoiding war 18. War results in deaths 19. War may be used to show power 20. Peace is essence of humanity 21. Using religious principles to achieve peace 22. War may be for legitimate reasons

15 Results: Overarching categories A. Respecting others (1,2,3) B. Getting along and not fighting (4,5,6,7) C. Working out and resolving problems (8,9,10,11,12) D. Caring for others (13,15) 1. Respecting different points of view 2. Respecting one another 3. Embracing diversity 4. Living in harmony 5. Co-existing with other people 6. Not hurting others on purpose 7. Having good inter-group and interpersonal relations with people 8. Resolving conflicts through alternate means other than via war 9. Resolving differences 10. Using words rather than weapons to resolve conflicts 11. Resolving disagreements without hurting 12. Using reason and working hard at reasoning 13. Giving people what they want or need 15. Showing love and compassion

16 Overarching categories p. 2 E. Peace is good (14,20) F. War is terrible (16,17,18) G. War is sometimes legitimate (19,22) H. Using religious principles to achieve peace (21) 14. Embracing peace 20. Peace is essence of humanity 16. War is bad 17. Avoiding war 18. War results in deaths 19. War may be used to show power 22. War may be due to legitimate reasons 21. Using religious principles to achieve peace

17 Overarching categories of parents’ answers by attitude groups Hawk/Dove Attitude Scale scores added Parents divided into three groups The overarching categories were identified in the answers of parents in each group. Low attitudes=support for military solutions to conflict; high attitudes=nonviolent solutions to conflict Answers are shown in Table 3.

18 Parent values as sensitizing concepts in child answers 14 of the 22 value-related themes found in child answers All 8 of the overarching categories found in child answers See Table 4 for child quotes Four categories found in all age groups See Table 5 for age analysis

19 Discussion There were more values identified that related to peace than war. It may be that parents prefer to talk with their children about positive aspects, or that answers about peace are varied and not standardized, falling into more categories. Simple judgments about war and peace may be related to the parents’ belief that children are not able to understand more complex aspects of the topics.

20 Discussion, p. 2 The category, War is sometimes legitimate, may be confusing to children who all said war is bad. The differences in parents’ attitudes did not relate to whether they thought peace was better than war, but how much they elaborated on the concepts. Parents most committed to nonviolence included values related to HOW to make peace.

21 Discussion p. 3 Parents with attitudes supporting military intervention used fewer words and expanded on concepts less. Older children expressed more complex ideas, consistent with cognitive development theories.

22 Implications Concepts need to be presented to younger children and older children differently. Parents with different hawk/dove attitudes will communicate different values to their children and may seek different educational support than other parents. Parents may need help with scaffolding their education about war/peace values for their children.


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