The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) provides a Code of Ethics that guides professional social workers to achieve their goals while meeting the demands of their respective clients. The third segment of the code offers standards that are founded on NASW’s values and principles. This discussion revolves around the first standard of the NASW Code of Ethics that focuses on ethical obligations and service to clients.
Social workers are expected to operate and provide their services in environments that could be challenging. Their careers compel them to liaise and associate with individuals who might be difficult. The adoption of a code of ethics has become a standard for ensuring that all professionals are able to achieve their goals. These guidelines are necessary since they prepare and guide social workers to address dilemmas and ethical predicaments that might arise (Sobočan et al., 2018). The code has a proper structure and detailed ideas for solving challenges and avoiding unnecessary conflicts.
The outlined ethical principles and standards are essential since they dictate the manner in which professionals in this field need to conduct themselves. The code goes further to describe the process of adjudication. Individuals who consider the outlined guidelines, requirements, and values will have higher chances of achieving their goals (Sobočan et al., 2018). They will avoid possible dilemmas and transform the overall experiences of their clients.
From a personal experience in the Department of Corrections, I have identified various areas of tension that all stakeholders should examine from an informed perspective. Specifically, I have realized that the specific agency does not promote powerful ethical principles that can compel professionals to treat their clients with respect and dignity (Azemi, 2019). In my setting, workers ignore the rights of offenders and sometimes mistreat them instead of providing relevant support. Relying on the identified NASW standard, it becomes quite clear that there is a need for correction officers to consider superior practices for helping beneficiaries and addressing most of their problems. These professionals need to do so without expecting favors or rewards in return.
On top of this concern, social workers in different fields ought to treat their clients with relevant dignity and respect. In most cases, I have observed that many correctional officers identify incarcerated persons as irresponsible wrongdoers who do not demand any form of respect. Consequently, these individuals’ capacities and abilities tend to be threatened (Sobočan et al., 2018). This gap explains why correctional officers should be on the lookout for evidence-based approaches, values, and guidelines that can result in significant social change.
History of NASW Code of Ethics
The first edition of what is today known as the NASW Code of Ethics was approved in the 1960s. The association’s delegates have been on the frontline to revise it accordingly by integrating emerging insights and ideas. These developments have led to a superior code that is capable of guiding social workers to practice in a professional manner and meet the demands of more clients (Sobočan et al., 2018). The inputs of citizens and members have always been taken into consideration to identify values, standards, and principles that can transform social work.
Throughout the evolution of this code, the professionals have failed to integrate correctional departments in the process and identify officers as social workers who can drive meaningful social change. This challenge has existed because the government is tasked with correctional activities and efforts. Consequently, unique gaps have continued to exist whereby officers do not promote ethical principles and values. The end result is that unique points of tension continue to exist, thereby affecting the quality of services and support available to different offenders (Azemi, 2019). These issues should inform future research activities and changes in correctional institutions.
Analyzing an Ethical Dilemma
NASW presents a powerful model for solving ethical issues. The selected dilemma from my agency is the mistreatment of offenders who ought to receive the relevant support and empowerment. The first step is to determine whether an ethical question or conflict exists. In the selected case, it is evident that client mistreatment is against the NASW code of conduct. The second one is to identify the involved values. The key ones include service and dignity. The third one can help the participants identify and rank these principles: failure to help the affected individuals and not promoting dignity (“Essential steps,” n.d.).
The fourth phase supports the development of a proper action plan. In the studied case, it could be appropriate to introduce new guidelines that will help more officers adopt better models to deal with incarcerated persons. The next stage is to implement the plan and ensure that it becomes a norm in all correctional institutions. Finally, the professionals involved will reflect on the outcomes and the recorded changes.
The above discussion has indicated that a code of ethics is necessary for social workers. The current gap in correctional facilities can be addressed using the plan outlined above. All partners should be involved to identify the evolution of the NASW Code of Ethics and embrace the same process to bring meaningful change in corrections facilities and help meet the demands of both officers and incarcerated persons.
Azemi, F. (2019). Ethical and social justice issues: The case of correctional institutions. Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues, 22(4), 1-10. Web.
Essential steps for ethical problem-solving. (n.d.). Web.
Sobočan, A. N., Bertotti, T., & Strom-Gottfried, K. (2018). Ethical considerations in social work research. European Journal of Social Work, 22(5), 805-818. Web.