Ethical Standards Summaries
Access the National Human Services Website.
Search for the ethical standards for human service professionals on their website and read them. Be sure to give special consideration to potential concerns with “dual relationships” as identified in Standard 5 of the Ethical Standards.
Write 350-700 word summaries for each of the following situations:
Situation # 1:? You are a human service worker who lives in a small town and you work at the WIC center.? You have a neighbor who you see come to the center for services.? Describe some of the risks and approaches you could take to reduce those risks.?
Situation # 2:? You are a human service worker in a large city jail.? You meet an inmate who seems intelligent, follows all program requirements and seems to be an excellent candidate for a successful release and reentry.? Upon release, this inmate sends you a friend request on Facebook.? Describe the possible actions, outcomes, and risks and approaches you could take to reduce those risks.
Situation # 3:? The person you have been dating for about a year is now being investigated by Child and Family Services for child neglect and abuse.? As a human service worker, what responsibilities and risks do you have?? How do you reduce those risks or manage the situation?
Ethical Standard Summaries
Ethics are an important aspect of every profession. Code of ethics establishes a set of rules that govern a certain profession and its members and enables them to know what is right and wrong. Human service workers are supposed to help their clients by upholding diversity and human dignity. They have many responsibilities and as a result, they form many relationships with their clients, clients’ families, groups, communities and fellow human service professionals. Some of these relationships might conflict with the profession’s ethical standards. Therefore, human service workers should always be ready to make the right decisions that ensure the well being of their clients is taken care of. This is the first thing that they should protect. They should therefore establish the limits when forming some of these relationships in order to avoid putting their client at risk or compromise on their privacy.
Working in a small town is different from working in cities. Small town are sparsely populated, meaning there is a chance of coming across 2 or 3 people that are familiar. In addition, there are not many human service institutions in small towns. As a result, most clients particularly women may seek their services at the WIC Center. Knowing a client who is also a neighbor may cause boundary challenges. Human service professionals have a mandate to help those in need and ensure that they improve their lives. For this to be effective, social workers are expected to maintain boundaries in order to assure their clients that they are responsible and have professional integrity. Human beings are social beings and it is sometimes inevitable to build relationships (Dewane, 2010).
When human service professionals find themselves in such situations, there is much more at risk. In this case, having a neighbor who is also a client can pose conflicting situations. If a relationship is formed, there a risk of disclosing confidential information, client seeking help from outside the organization and giving and receiving personal gifts and invitations. In addition, the service worker is faced with the challenge of what to do in case the client discloses confidential to others. In case of a conflict between the service worker and the neighbor/client, it is likely that nothing good might crop up from that. In such cases, a service worker might be penalized, suspended, get their license sanctioned or lose their job depending on the magnitude of the issue (Handon, 2016).
In order to avoid such risks, the service worker should be keen on maintaining boundaries with the client. Avoiding dual relationships with a client will reduce the risk of causing harm to the client and the risk of exploitation. The best thing that a social worker can do in such a case is be clear and honest to the client. He/she can explain the nature of their job, company policies and why it is important to have boundaries. When the client and the social worker are on the same page, it is easy for both of them to know what is right or wrong.
Such unplanned relationships, especially in small communities are not entirely unethical but all they require is to be handled skillfully. In inadvertent situations such as meeting a client at the supermarket or gym, or realizing that the client is dating a social worker’s relative, it is important to try and minimize the risk.
Dealing with an ex convict after release is not an easy task more so for a social service worker who is bounded by ethical standards of their profession. Criminals can be so tactical and they come in many forms. Just because an offender follows the programs and shows good behavior does not mean that he/she is completely changed. There is a high chance that the offender was doing the best in those situations as away to earn a ticket back to the free world with or without the intention of reforming completely. Handling such people requires a social worker to establish boundaries and be strict to follow. Accepting friend request means that the client can access the service worker’s information. There is a risk of having their private information such as home address, phone number, photographs of oneself or friends’ exposed to the wrong people. In severe circumstances, the client might go to the extent of stalking, assaulting, harassing or even murdering the social worker because they disclosed to them their personal and most critical information.
According standard 34 “Responsibility to Self”, human service workers understand their cultural backgrounds, values and beliefs and how they can influence their work (Blevins, 2016). This can also influence their relationships but they have a responsibility to serve all kinds of people. This will also include working with the offenders in the criminal justice system. In such cases a service worker should not get attached to the client however long or deep the programs get. In addition, the service worker has a responsibility to protect themselves by observing standard 33. It requires human service professionals to make the right decisions concerning disclosing their private information on social media having it in their minds that they reflect what their profession is about. They should also watch their public conduct since it represents them and their profession.
To minimize such risks, service workers should always put their professions first. Disclosing confidential can not only cause harm to their clients but also themselves and fellow service workers. Professional boundaries raise ethical issues that are common and complex. The issue comes up many times and it is not easy to draw the line and decide when it is too much. It is important to pay attention to dual relationships more since they can cause harm to clients. A social worker should therefore keep their Facebook account private and not confirm requests from current or former clients. This ensures that there are no misunderstandings or personal expectations. In addition, a service worker should always have in mind the needs of the client and work towards achieving progress without expecting anything in return. Since the service worker cannot control what the client does or says, it is upon them to be in control.
Being in a relationship with someone who is under investigation for child abuse and neglect is a challenge for everyone leave alone a human service professional. For a person who is not a service worker, there are fewer risks involved. They can choose to keep the relationship on hold until the person is cleared on just continue with the relation as the investigation goes on. However, a social worker has a lot to consider since there so much at stake. The partner might take advantage of the fact that the service workers can access information about the case and request information from them. He/she can ask who reported to the authorities, the seriousness of the allegations, or when the case will be opened. Disclosing such information can is risky as it can cause harm to some of the parties involved. In addition, it can tamper with the whole process since the accused can twist the narrative due to having the information in advance.
A human service worker is bound by ethical standards and should such information should be kept private even if that would mean the end of the relationship. According to standard 10, a human service professional is supposed to provide services to all people regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, culture, sexual orientation, language preference nationality and socio-economic status among others (Blevins, 2016). This means that he/she should not prioritize his /her relationship but do what is best for the sake of the child or children in question. If a service worker chooses to protect their partner, there are serious consequences such as losing a job or being charged as an accomplice.
In addition, standard 12 states, the responsibility of professionals to the public and the society (Blevins, 2016). Human service workers understand local, state and federal laws. They advocate for the rights of individuals, groups and communities. In such cases, a service worker knows what the law demands for those who abuse and neglect children. Therefore, he/she should not stand in the way of justice. A service worker has a bigger responsibility to the society than to one self. In such cases where dual relationships are challenged by unavoidable circumstances, it is advisable to let the law take its course and ensure that justice is served.
Blevins, H. (2016). Ethical Standards for HS Professionals. Nationalhumanservices.org. Retrieved 26 November 2016, from http://www.nationalhumanservices.org/ethical-standards-for-hs-professionals
Dewane, C. (2010). Respecting Boundaries — The Don’ts of Dual Relationships. Social Work Today, 10(1), 18. Retrieved from http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/012610p18.shtml
Handon, R. (2016). Client Relationships and Ethical Boundaries for Social Workers in Child Welfare. SocialWorker.com. Retrieved 26 November 2016, from http://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/ethics-articles/Client_Relationships_and_Ethical_Boundaries_for_Social_Workers_in_Child_Welfare/