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Ethical Case Scenarios Assignment
The first ethical dilemma in Scenario one is that two deaf children are removed from their home due to neglect, the foster parents they are placed with do not know American Sign Language. This scenario leads to an issue with communication between the caregiver and children. Communication is a basic need for children and in this situation, their need is not being met. The second ethical issue, in this case, is that the children’s’ medical doctor believes that with a cochlear implant, the children could gain partial hearing. The biological parents are against implants, are deaf themselves, and believe their children should remain immersed in the deaf community.
My initial reaction is that the children need to be in a home in which they can communicate with their caregivers immediately. Whether or not the implant surgery takes place, that will take time, as will teaching the children speech skills after they adjust to being able to hear partially. My goal would be to have them placed in a home with at least one caregiver able to communicate with American Sign Language. If that is not a possibility, then I would suggest having an ASL interpreter in the home with the family as much as possible, so they can communicate. I am unaware of the ages of the children, so I do not know if they can read and write messages.
My next goal would be to have a conversation with the biological parents, especially if the plan is for the children to return to their care eventually. I would want to explain to them the benefit it would be for their children to receive implants and regain partial hearing, I am completely deaf in one ear due to bacterial spinal meningitis as an infant, so I feel that sharing this experience would help us to build a relationship as a shared understanding. I would explain the benefits for the children to gain hearing; socially, emotionally, and psychologically. I would let them know that they will always remain connected to the deaf culture, as their parents are deaf and that they will continue to communicate with American Sign Language as well as speech. I put emphasis on how improved hearing could increase their education and vocational goals while being mindful that the parents do not have access to those opportunities.
The reason I chose these actions is that I believe the children are the priority, and their need for communication with their caregivers is the essential issue. I feel that the deaf parents need to be heard and that their valid feelings have been ignored. Giving the children and parents a voice in this scenario, as well as sharing my experience could make everyone feel more comfortable with the changes and challenges ahead. My first impression reading this scenario was that the deaf parents were wrong to want to avoid implants for their children. Thinking about the situation with empathy and looking at their culture allowed me to see things from their point of view.
Second Ethical Scenario
For my second ethical scenario, I chose case number four. This involves a small-town social worker agreeing to see her long-time hairdresser to discuss her marriage issues. The issue is that social workers have an ethical standard to uphold to not engage in dual relationships if there is a risk for exploitation or potential harm to the client. ((National Association of Social Workers, 1999, p. 10) Like this case, I live in a small town and to go off-island is at least a couple of hours by ferry or plane, so not an option for most people. I can easily see myself in this situation and I believe it is not an ethical violation for the social worker to see Mary as a client. In small towns, dual relationships are unavoidable.
If Mary was my client, in this situation, I would agree to see her and would make sure she knew our interaction would be kept confidential. I would ensure that Mary felt comfortable with her decision to see me before we engaged in a professional conversation. I would be transparent with her about professional client/social worker boundaries. I would not communicate with her through text, social media or email.
Mary is my hairdresser in this scenario, so we do not have an intimate relationship. I may decide to find a new hairdresser to make our professional relationship boundaries clear and avoid any additional conflicts of interest in the future. I think I would be able to provide Mary with competent, culturally appropriate, professional care.
As a victim advocate for the Prosecutor, I have experienced this situation numerous times. If the victim was a relative, or someone I was close with, I was able to refer them to the other advocate. I never put myself in the position of feeling awkward because I was too close to someone personally. On a small island, I knew of almost everyone I worked with and I was able to provide competent care and to work within professional boundaries. It is essential to assess potential ethical issues before taking on a new client.
- National Association of Social Workers. (1999). Code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. Washington, DC. NASW Press.
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