The ethical dilemma chosen revolves around the social worker dealing with a situation involving a 21-year-old female client who her father had sexually molested. Although the two have been separated for some time, the man still works as a 3rd-grade teacher in a school. This poses a potential threat to students, which the social worker and the client worry about. Nevertheless, the client wishes not to contact the police or any other services to restrict his access to children.
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Some of the ethical questions include the obligation to the client, the greater duty to protect society, and the matters of client confidentiality. If the social worker reports these findings to specialized services, they will betray the customer’s confidence and go directly against their wishes to keep the authorities out of the matter. However, in doing so, they will violate the responsibility to shield the children against the potential molester. In adverse circumstances, if the social worker does follow through and informs the police, by fulfilling their greater duty to protect, they will undermine all trust between themselves and the client. In addition, some of the associated ethical issues include the client’s father in question undergoing treatment. The assumption that he may or may not be molesting children in the class, at this point, has nothing to support itself other than a previous psychological condition that was, according to the case study, treated. Making the information public, if the suspicions are unfounded, will still ruin his career as a teacher.
The ethical standards utilized in this case study include those of commitment to clients and those of privacy and confidentiality. According to the Social Worker Ethic Code, the commitment to clients is defined as follows: “Social workers’ primary responsibility is to promote the well-being of clients. In general, clients’ interests are primary. However, social workers’ responsibility to the larger society or specific legal obligations may occasionally supersede the loyalty owed clients, and clients should be so advised.” Based on this quote, the social worker’s responsibility to society supersedes the client’s desire to keep the protective agencies out of the matter. On a utilitarian ethical scale, the chances of children being molested are weighted up over the customer’s wishes to keep the police not involved for the sake of avoiding dealing with the matter altogether. The safety of the children takes priority in this situation.
The privacy and confidentiality ethical standards have the same clause related to social worker conduct. It goes as follows: “The general expectation that social workers will keep the information confidential does not apply when disclosure is necessary to prevent serious, foreseeable, and imminent harm to a client or others.” In the provided ethical scenario, the potential for serious harm is significant, warranting the disclosure of the matter to various related parties. The ethical matter regarding the father losing his job is mediated by the law, which states that a person with a felony revolving around sex (especially pedophilia), narcotics, or drugs is automatically disqualified from being able to obtain or maintain teaching certification. Therefore, his working with children is illegal and should be stopped. Based on these matters, the social worker should report the information but keep it confidential and not disclose the source of information. In addition, they should be open with the client about their duty to disclose these matters, despite the fact that this might potentially damage their trusting relationship.