New Harbor is a vibrant, multicultural city that currently hosts a considerable number of immigrants who have come in search for employment and better living conditions. Like any diverse community, New Harbor has to deal with high crime rates, homelessness, and poverty that cannot help affecting both adults and their children.
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Robert Johnson, who works for the Community Center, noticed that many of the teens who resort to the services it provides do not have any permanent address, which may mean that they are either homeless or have certain instabilities in their families. In any case, these teens are likely to need additional assistance of a human service professional, whose responsibility is to render help without any cultural, racial, gender, religion, status, or national discrimination (Wark, 2016).
Since Robert has decided to find out what the problem is by questioning parents (with whom he has personal relationships), he should be aware of ethical issues that have to be taken into account in order to avoid crossing the boundaries of professional competence. The situation is complicated by the fact that he is far from being impartial to these families, which may impede administration of justice.
On the one hand, human service professionals must help their clients identify their unmet needs and satisfy them at the community level. This implies that Robert must identify family problems of each teenager and decide whether he/she should stay in the family in case it is unable to provide him/her with everything to sustain living (Sparkman & Lott, 2014). On the other hand, in accordance with NOHS standards, a human service professional should be aware of social and political issues that may have different impact on people from diverse cultural backgrounds. In other words, Robert should understand that unemployment and poverty are indispensible to the life of immigrants who have recently joined the community (Wark, 2016).
That is why it would be wrong to judge these families’ ability to raise children by the financial criterion only. In order to come out with an ethical solution to the problem, Robert must consider a broader context of the situation thinking beyond the child’s needs to the needs of the whole family.
Moreover, there is also a risk that Robert may violate the privacy right of his clients in his intention to help them. According to the standards, in case he identifies that the existing laws discriminate against the minority population, he should advocate for change in regulations so that they follow ethical principles. Yet, at the same time, it is his direct responsibility to ensure security and privacy of his clients’ records, which can be shared only with their written consent (Wark, 2016). Therefore, Robert should be very careful in proposing help to teenagers and their families in order to avoid hostility towards his suggestions. Many families will not like the idea of bringing their personal matters into court even if their financial and residential interests are concerned.
The only help that Robert can render to homeless teens is to allocate them to orphanages. However, the matter is much more complicated with teenagers from troubled families. In this case, he has to be very careful not to scare children off. It would be challenging to identify if they are subjected to physical or psychological violence at home without putting them at risk. That is why Robert should try face-to-face discussions before addressing parents that may be the only source of trouble for the child (Craigen, Cole, & Cowan, 2013).
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Craigen, L. M., Cole, R. F., & Cowan, R. G. (2013). Online relationships and the role of the human service practitioner. Journal of Human Services, 33(1), 29-43.
Sparkman, N. M., & Lott, T. (2014). The human services–board certified practitioner: A review of the current state. Journal of Human Services, 34(1), 184-189.
Wark, L. (2016). The ethical standards for human services professionals: Revision 2015. Journal of Human Services, 36(1), 31-36.