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Examine the case study above and analyze the potential conflicts in values between the school, parent and the police. On the basis of your professional value base what could you suggest as a social worker to help and support Allen, his father and the school.
Allen, who is 15 years old, has a special needs statement for learning and behavioural difficulties and attends a referral unit (a special school with smaller class sizes and varied learning experiences) to meet these needs.
Recently Allen has stopped attending the unit, complaining of boredom, bullying and lack of teachers support to stop the bullying. Added to the concerns Allen has also been arrested on a couple of occasions from shoplifting, during school time, with others from the same referral unit.
Alan’s father, Peter, is concerned about him not going to the referral unit, but has not been into school to sort things out. He tells you (The Social Worker) he does not believe Alan’s story about the bullying but at the same time he does not appear to have done anything to challenge Allen’s absence.
The head teacher from Allen’s referral unit is clear in saying there is no bullying. He is keen for the education Department to prosecute Peter for failing to get Allen to attend school.
- What Specific Elements of the GSCC Code of Practice and Social Work Values Are Relevant and Comment on How This Can Help in Applying the Law and Good Practice.
- How notions of human rights, utilitarian and Kantian Philosophies Might Apply to this Situation.
- How anti discriminatory practice can inform your working with the situation. Protect the rights and
- The power that young people have in relation to school/social work agency and how other viewpoints can be balanced alongside the wishes and feelings of the young person.
Allen is 15 years old and currently displaying behavioral difficulties in school. He attends a referral unit, which is designed to attend to the needs of children with special needs such as Allen. He is also presenting with anti-social behaviors in that he was caught committing theft. This occurred during school hours. Additionally, Allen allegedly told mistruths about being bullied by other students, thus his reason for leaving school. It appears that the school is reaching out to Peter, Allen’s father, with no success. Peter has not been to the school to address Allen’s current behaviors.
Foremost, it is important to reflect on the differences in views and values caused by the current situation to better understand the complexities within it. Firstly, the school may not be able to provide additional services without parental consent and collaboration. Therefore, the school is limited in what services can be put in place. Additionally, school personnel may desire that discipline be applied at school and home in a consistent manner, which requires school involvement by parents. Another concern for the school is whether it can safely contain a child who is displaying high-risk behaviors. Although the school is required to work with Allen on his behavioral issues, the school’s resources are limited to children who are able to defray from harmful situations. In the case of this particular child, the school may not have appropriate staff that can provide additional safety and security so that Alan does not hurt himself within school property. There is also the chance that he may attempt to leave the school premises as he has done in the past. Without parental support and possible lack of services to contain Allen, the school may be concerned about liability. Eventually, if he becomes involved in a situation that is either harmful to himself or others, the school may opt to recommend he attend a lock-down facility.
Peter, on the other hand, may feel that school should be equipped to handle Allen’s behaviors, especially being that it is a school for children with special needs. Peter may be a single parent and/or have a very demanding job, which may make it difficult for him to attend school meetings. Despite these obstacles however, he is Allen’s legal guardian and is ultimately responsible for providing him with an appropriate educational environment. This entails collaborating with the school. His lack of presence in the school is a display that he is not adequately providing for Allen’s educational needs.
Police is obligated to keep Allen safe and at the same time required to enforce the law. Police is also the neutral force amidst the school system and Allen’s father. However, if Allen continues to break the law, the police department will be in the position to support the school’s recommendation for a more restrictive environment.
Although it is sometimes difficult for collaterals in a child’s life to work cohesively to provide the best level of care possible, it is all involved adults’ legal and ethical responsibility to do so. Therefore, while working with Allen, Peter and school staff should keep in mind that Allen is protected by stringent laws pertaining to children with disabilities. For instance, in my work with Allen, I must keep in mind the General Social Care Council Code of Practice and Social Work Values that specify the level of care participants such as Allen should be receiving. According to social work practice, I should remember the important principles set forth in this code. First, I should promote Allen’s interests. To do so, I must prove to Allen that I am invested in his well-being and in alliance with him. I should also strive to develop and maintain a relationship of trust and confidence with Allen. Otherwise, he will not be willing to work with me. I am also responsible for promoting Allen’s independence while also ensuring that he is not vulnerable to harmful situations, harmful to himself or to someone else. I am also compelled to respect Allen’s rights at all times. Following these guidelines ensures that I am adhering to legal and good practice standards.***********
Similarly, the school should also adhere to guidelines regarding how Allen is treated within the school environment. School staff should pay particular attention to laws set forth for children with disabilities. Due to Allen’s behavioral disability, the school cannot expel him, but rather should work with him in an attempt to resolve any concerns.
Allen’s father, Peter, is also responsible for Allen’s care and well-being. Peter is bound by child protection and welfare laws, which include specifications regarding parents’ responsibility to provide children with the appropriate educational opportunities. The fact that Peter is unable or unwilling to attend the school to address Allen’s behavioral and truancy issues can constitute as neglect due to the severity of Allen’s behaviors. In addition, Allen is engaging in high-risk behaviors which are potentially putting him in harm’s way while truant. This causes concern of liability by both the caregiver and the school.
Fortunately, Allen is protected by child laws which state that he cannot be expelled from school due to his behavior. This law was created specifically for children who suffer from learning disabilities ()********. They acknowledge this and many times use this, very rightfully, to their advantage. For instance, Allen may be well aware that he will not be expelled for the current behaviors he is displaying. Additionally, he appears to be manipulating the situation by falsely stating that he is being bullied. In spite of his acting out, however, Allen has the right to be treated fairly. Thus, the bullying should be investigated despite Peter and the head teacher’s feeling that it is not occurring. Additionally, appropriate services for educational and emotional advancement should be implemented, according to the guidelines specified by the Special Education Needs Code of Practice (2001).
It appears that Allen has been acting out behaviorally for some time. It is important to investigate what it is that is causing him to manifest his feelings through negative behaviors. It is vital that Allen begin to see an individual therapist so that he may have a safe environment to discuss his current stressors. I am a licensed Social Worker and would like to work with Allen on a weekly basis. Currently, Allen is socializing with others who are also engaging in the self-damaging behaviors. He is in need of a positive support system.
Peter is also in need of supportive services. I will refer Peter to a support group for children with learning and behavioral issues so that he may understand that other families also deal with similar struggles. If Allen is willing to attend, it may benefit him to view other children’s perspectives on their attitudes toward their educational and emotional difficulties (Social Care Institute for Excellence Research briefing 14).
Peter may not be cognizant of the severity of Allen’s behavior, which may be the reason he is not willing to collaborate with the school. It may be useful to provide outreach support by sharing pamphlets, making phone calls to the home and providing Internet resources so that Peter may be educated properly regarding Allen’s current needs. It is unsure whether Peter has a strong support system on which he is able to rely. It would be fruitful to explore family and friends that could assist him in caring for Allen when Peter is feeling overwhelmed.
The school may also benefit from social work services. Teachers and staff that work with Allen may need to discuss their struggles with someone who could provide clinically sound feedback. I recommend that personnel meet with me and the school psychologist once a week to discuss Allen’s behaviors and help teachers think through effective methods of intervention. Further, teachers may benefit from collaborating with each other and discussing methods of providing consistency for Allen throughout his school day. A mentoring program may also be valuable to Allen. A program that provides Allen with a mentor who is a little older and more mature may assist Allen in understanding perspectives other than his own. In the most ideal situation, Allen should be provided with a mentor who is just slightly older than he, so that Allen can confide in someone who understands his adolescent culture; yet is also a resource who could model positive, responsible behavior.
Code of Practice for Social Care Workers and Code of Practice for Employers of Social Care Workers. GSCC Code of Practice General Social Care Council Goldings House 2 Hay’s Lane London SE1 2HB 020 7397 5100www.gscc.org.uk
Special Education Needs Code of Practice (2001). The Education Act, 1996.
Banks (2004) Ethics, Accountability and the Social Professions.
Becket and Maynard (2005) Values and Ethics in Social Work.
Clark (2000) Social Work Ethics.
Hugman and Smith (1995) Ethical Issues in Social Work.
Jordan, B (1990) Social Work in an Unjust Society.
Payne and Littlechild (ed., 2000) Ethical Practice and the Abuse of Power in Social Responsibility.
Shardow, S.M. (2002) Values and Ethics in Social Work.
Spratt, T. & Callan, J. (2004) Interventions in Child Welfare Cases. British Journal of Social Work, 34(2), 199-224.
SCIE Research briefing 14: Helping parents with learning disabilities in their role as parents
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