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Sarah Banks: Ethics, professionalism and youth work


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Sarah Banks: Ethics, professionalism and youth work

  1. 1. Ethics, professionalism & youth work ∂ Sarah Banks 1
  2. 2. Summary1. The current climate2. The nature of youth work, professions/ professionalism, ethics/professional ethics. ∂3. An ideal type for youth work4. Types of ethical challenges in youth work and examples5. Conclusions 2
  3. 3. The current climate• Managerialism – targets, outcomes, performance management, risk management, procedures, regulations ∂• Marketisation – contracts, bidding for services, growth of private sector provision• Austerity – cuts in public services and in state funding for NGOs 3
  4. 4. Implications for• youth work – its survival and/or the role it plays (open, targeted, etc)• Professions and professionalism – increasing regulation of professions, ∂ ‘de-professionalising’ trends• Ethics – perennial dilemmas in new contexts. E.g. education versus control; inter-agency confidentiality and information-sharing 4
  5. 5. Youth work in relation to other approaches to working with young people Youth leisure Youth work Youth social work work – Recreat- Care, education & Informal control, including ional activities, education, advice, counselling, often in groups, compulsory youth usually with voluntary ∂ programmes (individual group work; often & group work). engagement, based on Youth training may have voluntary Formal education & informal training to prepare for educational engagement of jobs, enhance life skills process & young people. (individual & group work) outcomes e.g. sports teams. 5
  6. 6. Work with young peopleYouth work as with an informal a specialist educational and/or developmental approach occupation and purpose that is carried out by people who are qualified as ∂ youth workers, or who consciously adopt the identity of ‘youth worker’, within an organisational setting (this includes volunteers and part-time workers). 6
  7. 7. Youth work as a profession?• An occupation serving the public good, based on transcendent values• Specialist education and qualifications?• Professional association and code of ethics?• Protected title, professional registration? ∂• An occupation making a bid for status and power? 7
  8. 8. Professionalism in youth work• Set of values underpinning the work• Competence/expertise – knowledge & skills relating to young people and work with young people ∂• Ethical practice – doing good, not harming, exploiting, deceiving• Awareness of boundaries – e.g. personal/ professional; carer/controller• Ability to identify and work on ethical challenges that arise in the work 8
  9. 9. Ethics is about principles and norms ofbehaviour relating to right and wrong action;the good and bad qualities of people’scharacter; and relationships that arerelevant to human, animal and planetaryflourishing. ∂This includes matters of rights, duties,needs, interests, relationships, motives andthe maintenance or transgression ofprevailing norms.Professional ethics is about these mattersin a work context 9
  10. 10. Professional ethics: key themes1. Decision-making – how to make good judgements/ decisions. Rational decision-making models; dilemmas and cases. Key ethical theories: principle-based ethics (Kantian, utilitarian). Key theme: reasoning.2. Dialogue – how to empathise, listen, communicate, work collaboratively. Ethical being as well as doing; contextual, dialogical process. Key ethical theories: character and ∂ relationship-based ethics (virtue and care ethics). Key theme: relationships.3. Regulation – how to develop comprehensive and clear rules and ensure people understand and stick to them. Systems of registration, disciplinary hearings. Key ethical theories: rule-utilitarianism, anti-ethical theory. Key theme: rules. 10
  11. 11. Professional ethics: key phases1. Professional autonomy – focus on the professional practitioner as trustworthy expert with the right and responsibility to make her own judgements/decisions, within remit of the professional role and code of ethics (1900s to 1960s)2. Democratic professionalism – focus on service user- ∂ professional relationship in context, shared decision- making, empowerment, social justice (1970s/80s)3. Professional regulation – focus on development of defined roles and detailed rules of conduct by professions or the state, enforcing/ensuring accountability to service users and the state (1990s- 2010s) 11
  12. 12. The purpose, values & ethical principles of youth work – an ideal type (UK) From Banks, S. (ed) Ethical Issues in Youth Work (2010), pp. 10-11 ∂ Drawing on various sources, including: National Youth Agency (2004) Ethical Conduct in Youth Work; Lifelong Learning UK (2008) National Occupational Standards for Youth Work; Bernard Davies (2005); Tony Taylor (2009) 12
  13. 13. The key purpose of youth work is to: Enable young people to develop holistically, working with them to facilitate their personal, ∂ social and educational development, to enable them to develop their voice, influence and place in society and to reach their full potential. (LLUK, 2008) 13
  14. 14. Youth work has the followingcharacteristics and values[this is the contested part]:• a voluntary relationship• an informal educational process ∂• the value of association• the value of young people participating democratically (Davies, 2005; Taylor 2009; LLUK 2008) 14
  15. 15. Youth workers have a commitment tothe following ethical principles: • Treat young people with respect. • Respect and promote young people’s rights to make their own decisions and choices ∂ • Promote and ensure the welfare and safety of young people • Contribute towards the promotion of social justice for young people and in society generally. • Practise with integrity, compassion, courage and competence 15 (NYA, 2004)
  16. 16. The form of ethical challenges in youth workEthical dilemmas – arise when the youth worker faces adecision-making situation involving a difficult choice betweentwo equally unwelcome alternatives, often involving a conflictof principles, and it is not clear which choice will be the rightone. Any decision leaves a ‘remainder’ or ‘residue’ (e.g.remorse or regret).Ethical problems – arise when the worker faces a difficult ∂situation, where a decision has to be made, but there is nodilemma for the person making the decision – that is, it is clearwhich course of action to take.Ethical issues – pervade youth work practice in that it takesplace in the context of state-sponsored systems of welfare andcontrol, where matters of needs, rights, duties, interests,relationships and the maintenance or transgression ofprevailing norms are at stake. 16
  17. 17. The content of ethical challenges in youth work• How to balance care, education, empowerment and control• How to handle inter-professional value conflicts – especially with police• How to work with confidentiality & information ∂ sharing• How to balance the rights and needs of one young person/group & those of others• Whether to take funds to target specific young people 17
  18. 18. 1. Surveillance and relations with the police Two youth workers based in a school, but with an area remit, had been working in a youth work project in a seaside village. The project was a response to political pressure ‘to do something’ about a large group of young people who gathered by the beach in the evenings. The young people generally behaved well. Although there were a few instances of drinking, mostly the young people just wanted to be together, in a large group as they were accustomed to do at school. Youth workers established good ∂ relationships with group members, whom they felt were in danger of being unreasonably criminalised. A minor incident with one young man drinking led to images of group members being captured on surveillance cameras. Youth workers were asked to meet with police and school leaders, shown video images of the group and asked to identify the young people. They felt little understanding of, or respect for, their role as youth workers from the other agencies. 18
  19. 19. • Ethical dilemma – break Case 1: trust with young people versus lose credibility withPossible school and policeframings • Ethical problem – say ‘no’ and be prepared to deal with consequences. Agree to work ∂with young people without involving school or police • Ethical issues – stereotyping and demonisation of young people by adults; climate of surveillance and control in society 19
  20. 20. 2. Bangladeshi young people and sexual health adviceIn Wales, UK, a drop-in youth project offered a range ofservices, including sexual health advice. The project madegreat efforts to make its services accessible to young peopleof Bangladeshi origin living in the area, who were largelyMuslim. The project was aware there would be problems forthe Muslim community, but felt they could not refuse the ∂service to Muslim young men, as all young people had theright to access its services. After a year the Bangladeshiyoung men stopped coming. The mosque had found outabout the ‘condom service’ and called a community meetingbarring all young people from accessing the project. Projectstaff found no solution. 4 years later, still no Bangladeshiscome to the project. 20
  21. 21. • Ethical issues – accessibility Case 2: of services for different ethnic/religious groups; inter-Possible generational conflictframings • Ethical dilemma – whether to challenge the leaders in the mosque, or to accept their ∂ decision • Ethical problem – decide that it is right to meet with leaders in mosque, even though difficult, and discuss youth provision 21
  22. 22. 3. Self-harm and threat of suicideClearing up after an evening youth work session, a 15 year-oldyoung woman, Dawn, approached the youth worker and asked ifshe could speak in private. Dawn said she couldn’t go on anylonger. She hated her life. She showed the youth worker scars onher arms and told the worker how she cut herself. She pleadedwith the worker not to tell anyone. The worker said afterwards:“I felt apprehensive and unsure. I felt as though I could make thissituation much worse by saying or doing the wrong thing. ∂Although I understood our policy about reporting such seriousconcerns, and had taken training in self-harm, these did not helpme when faced with this young woman in distress. I knew I had totell my manager, but I felt this would start a process that wouldput this young woman under even more pressure before shecould receive any relief. It might make things worse before theycould get better. I felt as though what I said and did coulddetermine whether or not she made it through the night.” 22
  23. 23. • Ethical problem – decide that it is Case 3: right to tell the manager, evenPossible though this will contradict the request from the young woman.framings The main question is how to relate to the young woman. • Ethical dilemma – whether to tell ∂ the manager, or anyone else, or to respect the young woman’s request and risk harm. • Ethical issues – bureaucratic procedures for working with risk; youth worker’s responsibilities to protect young people from harm 23
  24. 24. The importance of framing and reframing For example, the most pressing question in Case 3 is not whether or not to tell the manager (decision-making dilemma), but how to relate to this young woman in this situation (dialogical relationship). This is not just a matter of ∂ following procedures (regulatory ethics), but of:  Context  Relationship  Sensitivity  Empathy• 24
  25. 25. Professional wisdom & ‘ethics work’• Ethical sensitivity or attentiveness of the youth worker to the salient ethical features of situations; recognition of the political context of practice and the practitioner’s own professional power (reflexivity); use of emotions – empathy, care, compassion.• Ethical character - the moral struggle to be a good youth worker; maintaining personal and professional integrity while carrying out the requirements of the agency role, ∂ including moral courage to challenge unethical or oppressive behaviour by young people and colleagues; and to challenge poor, bad and unjust practices and policies.• Ethical reasoning in making and justifying difficult ethical decisions; critical appraisal of relevant rules and regulations and deciding whether, where and how to apply them. 25
  26. 26. Concluding comments• The importance of youth workers’ sensitivities to the particularities of each case – not just following rules/procedures• The need for clarity and confidence about professional roles and responsibilities, especially in inter- ∂ agency working• The need for occupational/professional groups to affirm, maintain and debate professional identity (purpose, values, ethical principles) 26
  27. 27. ∂ Ethics and Social Welfare journal Ethics and Social Welfare Network To join, 27