NASW Office of Ethics and Professional Review
Ethical social work practice in school systems involves a myriad of complex variables that demand a sound knowledge of the NASW Code of Ethics, along with legal, statutory, and other requirements. The following tips address important considerations necessary to arrive at solid ethical outcomes in school settings.
School social workers work to prevent mass killing in schools as well as guide schools in recovery after a crisis has occurred. Today more than ever, there is a growing need for school social workers to help prevent school violence and to support students in moments of crisis.
Sharon Issurdatt Dietsche, ACSW, LICSW, LCSW-C
The U.S. public school system previously acted as part of the social safety net for students and families. When a student had a problem at home that was presented in school, such as hunger, emotional distress, illness or even lice, the school often advocated on behalf of the student and engaged with the family to find resolution. Many times the school personnel involved with the student (e.g., the school social worker, teacher, nurse, and principal) collaborated for the student’s overall well-being in addition to the student’s academic success.
Sharon Issurdatt Dietsche, LICSW, LCSW-C
The teenage years can be a tumultuous time for many young people. Balancing peer relationships, academics, body image and emotional instability are some issues that can prove to be confusing and unsettling for many teens. Many young people also experience depression, suicide risk and bullying behaviors during this turbulent developmental phase.
The "school to prison pipeline" is a phenomenon that has occurred over the last few decades as school systems have increasingly relied upon zero tolerance policies and law enforcement to manage discipline in schools, resulting in rising incidents of suspensions, expulsions and school based arrests. This trend represents a shift from discipline being handled fully by the school administration in a more individualized manner, attending to the nuances of the student and the misconduct, to a shift towards criminalizing even minor offenses with rigid consequences that are often extreme for the offense.
Many adults struggle in their parental roles and with the tremendous responsibility that raising children encompasses. Their outlook as caretakers can perpetually shift. Feeling competent and well-suited in the role of being a parent can vacillate to feeling overwhelmed and defeated by children’s responses and behaviors. This fluctuation is often a normal transferal in parenthood. Because parents are frequently exhausted by the commitments of upholding a household and maintaining employment among other crucial obligations, they may not seek the emotional or educational guidance they need to support their relationship with their children. Many parents who come into contact with social workers are compromised in their ability to parent due to drug use, trauma or emotional issues. Social workers, in their many roles, can provide parents with support and guidance to assist them in their parental roles.