The case study provided reveals critical issues in social work concerning professions and clients. The client is an 18 years old white man who faces social injustices at home and school. While social workers strive to improve the quality of life for vulnerable people in the community, like in the case study, they face the dilemma that requires a multidimensional approach. The case reveals hate crimes, identity and stigma, discrimination, and values that pose dilemmas and their approaches in legal and ethical perspectives.
Disability Hate Crime
Hate crimes are among the issues facing people living with a disability. Pearson (2015) is a person living with facial disfigurement and defines disability hate crime as prejudice based on a confirmed or perceived disability. The Citizen Organization of the UK also contends that a disability hate incident occurs when someone or a victim believes that they have faced hostility or prejudice due to a disability (Disability hate crime, n.d.). Pearson (2015) explains from his experience that it makes one uneasy in social places such as schools, homes, or workplaces. As such, disability hate crimes are revealed in Patrick’s case.
Patrick was bullied in a mainstream secondary school. Bullying is a crime, and therefore, his alleged friends propagate a disability hate crime. This is a confirmation to the case report in the first paragraph that Patrick’s neighbourhood has had cases of hate crimes against people living with a disability. Patrick also faces hate crimes from his family. Although it seems to them that they are caring, his parents limit his freedom by accompanying him to his friends. Patrick reports that he does have more fun when with his friends, without a caretaker. His parents have also demanded that he will not move in with his friends after learning he is in a sexual relationship. Regardless of their personal beliefs, Patrick has the right to his sexuality. However, it is imperative to note that some rights have traditionally suffered profiling, causing stigmatization.
Identity and Stigma
A study (Howard, 2006) defines social identity as the extent to which individuals identify themselves as members of a group. However, this identity may be discredited and devalued through discrimination and oppression, a situation regarded as a stigma. Stigmatized members of the community are viewed as inferior. The causes of stigma have been associated with ignorance, prejudice, and discrimination in the course modules. In this case, Patrick faces a character defect stigmatization since he cannot read like other people of his age. Besides, his parents have stigmatized homosexuality and sex before marriage. A recent study (Hildebrandt, Bode and Ng, 2019) found that stigmatization of the LGBTQ+ community is prevalent in the UK, and worse, there is little government effort to combat it due to misjudged public attitude.
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Stigmatization is a disrespect to diversity in society. However, diversity is inherent in society, primarily due to the coexistence of many cultures, religions, races, among other differentiators. The impact of diversity is such that the attitudes of one person may be different from another. For instance, Patrick’s parents consider homosexuality as evil while he is okay with it. Therefore, social workers ought to be sensitive about diversity in their work line to support and promote all members without discrimination. However, more often, the diversity existing in the community is not respected. This creates a social inequality where vulnerable and minorities in the community suffer hate crimes and are stigmatized through stereotyping, discrimination, and oppression.
Stereotyping, Discrimination, And Oppression
Stereotyping concerns fixating an over-generalized belief about a group of people. Thus, the stereotyped person is presumed to have characteristics of the associated group (Remedios and Snyder, 2018). Since the association is presumed, at the core of stereotyping, there is prejudice. Discrimination arises when the stereotype leads to unfair prejudicial treatment of a person or a group of people (Remedios and Snyder, 2018). In some instances, vulnerable people in the community are discriminated against, causing limited access to social amenities and suppressed human and civil rights. In such a situation, such discriminated people are in oppression (Remedios and Snyder, 2018). These are illustrated in the case study, where Patrick is stereotyped, discriminated and oppressed.
From the case, Patrick’s parents stereotype that he may not handle a sexual relationship. That is why they do not mention his relationship with Ali in the first meeting. Once they have learned about it, Patrick’s parents are not impressed and work to terminate the relationship. They overlook the diversity in the context that their son is abled differently. This is discrimination against him since he has sexual rights. Further, they are against homosexuality and sex before marriage based on their religious beliefs. It is oppressive since they demand a professional social worker’s withdrawal from assisting Patrick and causes him additional stresses to hate crimes he is facing.
Although unexpectedly, one’s parents might cause oppression to their children, Marx’s theory suggests some reason for the situation. From the module materials, Marx’s theory of conflict contends that inequality is a social function. There is always a conflict of interest, where consent is always being created or enforced. Besides, Weber illustrates the impacts of class and status by explaining that one’s lifestyle and life chances determine their status quo. In this case, Patrick is regarded as inferior to other children, friends, and parents due to his disability. They create and enforce consent on him through a systematic process of stereotyping, discrimination, and oppression, denying him rights to sexuality and free will. However, this is against Patrick’s civil and human rights.
Human rights laws help ensure that human rights are guaranteed to everyone. The Human Rights Act 1998 describes all the fundamental rights and freedom of all people within UK territories. The Act transcends the rights described in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to the local courts. Despite the Act ensuring that all people are entitled to human rights, a study (Carr et al., 2017) has found that people living with mental health problems did not enjoy all their human rights. Such include targeted hostility and other forms of disability hate crimes. That reveals social inequalities, as explain in Marxism, that society always finds a way to propagate inequalities.
In the case study, Patrick is entitled to all human rights, as enforced by the Human Rights Act 1998. Any violation of his rights, which includes the right to equality and freedom from discrimination, is subject to prosecution in the court of law. Therefore, the Human Rights Act 1998 protects him from both his parents and his friends by enforcing his right to equality and freedom from discrimination, freedom from torture and degrading treatment, right to privacy, freedom of belief ad religion, freedom of opinion, and right of peaceful assembly and association, which are violated in the case. Besides, the Equality Act ensures that people assemble and coexist in a fair and just society. For instance, the Equality Act 2010 forbids discrimination and harassment that Patrick has faced in school and at home. It has harmonized the different laws and regulations that seek human justice to ensure human rights’ universality. Therefore, regardless of a person’s individuality, all people are entitled to equal human rights. In this case, regardless of his disability, Patrick is entitled to equal rights as his friends, schoolmates, and family members.
Personal and Professional Values
Besides the law, social work professionals help ensure that vulnerable community members enjoy their rights and freedom. They improve the safety of such people and help them to achieve an improved quality of life. The care code of conduct requires that social workers be accountable for all their actions. They should always promote and upload the privacy, dignity, rights, health, and wellbeing of their clients at all times. That is why, in this case, the only necessary information was given to Patrick’s parents during the first meeting. Although they have then filed a case on unprofessionalism and hoarding of information, it is within the professional codes of conduct. Patrick’s dignity and privacy regarding his sexuality and relationships deserved such protection. The code of conduct also requires colleagues to collaborate to ensure high-quality social work. Unfortunately, in this case, the manager sides with Patrick’s parents because they know each other. She should “strive to improve the quality of healthcare, care and support through continuing professional development” (Department of Health, n.d.). However, she has put her colleague in an ethical dilemma, where she has to deal with a complicated care issue.
Ethical theories are ideal in the current situation to provide social workers with a framework for justifying their decisions. From week five notes, ethical theories help social care workers make ethical decisions by the principles of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice. Autonomy refers to a person’s right to control their lives, make choices about the thing they want or do not want. Regardless of other laws and torts, the principle of autonomy in ethics guides a social worker to help him move in with his friends. The social worker should ensure the process results in benefits for the client. In this case, a social worker ought to ensure that Patrick’s rights are honored and that he movies in with roommates appropriate for him. This process should abide by non-maleficence – not to harm Patrick or other people involved. Lastly, justice is paramount for ethical decision making in social work. All decisions must be fair regardless of the social status of an individual.
This course has turned out to be very valuable for my social work career. It has revealed many things that are the day-to-day experiences of a social worker and provided valuable insights about how one should approach the experiences. Notably, the course has focused on the care of vulnerable members of society, which is a critical category for clients in the social work profession.
In week one, we learned about values, equality and diversity. This was an exciting opening for me since I am passionate about the suppression of social injustices. I am determined to ensure justice in society through advocacy and community programs such as education in my career. I believe that all people are important, yet they exist ina highly diversified scenario. Every person is different from the other through culture, education, socioeconomic status, and power. However, Parsons’s theory contends that society is meant to be harmonious. That way, all social functions should be integrated to overcome Marx’s observation that society is naturally in the chaos of socioeconomic division. However, I appreciate that everyone in society has their roles and takes a significant part in making a society. Therefore, respect for one another is paramount.
In that perspective, I was excited through the lectures on laws involved in social work, especially regarding human rights. The Human Rights Act of 1998 is an essential tool in society to ensure that all community members enjoy natural harmony regardless of divisive social functions. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, this entails access to and supply all needs, from psychological needs to self-actualization. Within this hierarchy, a social worker’s role is apparent – to help people satisfy their needs. As such, it has been imperative to learn the various hindrances to the satisfaction of individual needs.
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The major hindrance is social injustices, such as discrimination. This was first detailed in week two, where stereotyping, discrimination, and oppression was described. It is unfortunate that despite vulnerable community members, including children, elderly adults, and mentally ill persons, they face discrimination – hate crimes. For instance, disability hate crimes are prevalent in the UK, challenging the life outcome for people living with disabilities and violating their human rights. The Equality Act 2010 considered all people as equal and entitled to universal human rights. It helps prevent people from using their power to oppress others and ensure healthy development and social identity protection.
I believe the codes of conduct and the law are valuable tools for social workers to ensure all members, especially the vulnerable community groups, achieve quality life outcomes. The codes of conduct guide social workers to ensuring professionalism, while the law enforces human rights through the local courts. Further, the ethical theories provide a framework for making professional decisions when a dilemma arises. I believe the principle of beneficence is a strong frame since it restricts one to ensure advantageous outcomes. Besides, social work professionals should prioritize morality – doing that which is right, and if doubts arise, the principles of ethical conduct should guide them in making the most appropriate decision.
Carr, S., Holley, J., Hafford-Letchfield, T., Faulkner, A., Gould, D., Khisa, C. and Megele, C., 2017. Mental health service user experiences of targeted violence and hostility and help-seeking in the UK: a scoping review. Global Mental Health, 4.
Department of Health, n.d. Skill For Care. Strive to improve the quality of healthcare, care and support through continuing professional development.
Citizensadvice.org.uk. n.d. Disability Hate Crime. [online] Available at: <https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-courts/discrimination/hate-crime/disability-hate-crime/> [Accessed 4 January 2021].
Hildebrandt, T., Bode, L. and Ng, J., 2019. Responsibilization and Sexual Stigma Under Austerity: Surveying Public Support for Government-Funded PrEP in England. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 17(4), pp.643-653.
Howard, J., 2006. Social psychology of identities. Annual Review of Sociology, 26, p.367.
Pearson, A., 2015. What Makes A Disability Hate Crime?. [online] BBC News. Available at: <https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-ouch-33623011> [Accessed 4 January 2021].
Remedios, J. and Snyder, S., 2018. Intersectional Oppression: Multiple Stigmatized Identities and Perceptions of Invisibility, Discrimination, and Stereotyping. Journal of Social Issues, 74(2), pp.265-281.