Personal Ethical Statement
Personal Ethical Statement
A school counselor refers to an educator or a counselor who works in an elementary, middle or high school to develop career, academic and college readiness and provide social and personal competencies to all K-12 students, particularly through a school counseling program. Undoubtedly, school counselors face both legal and ethical challenges every day. Ethical and legal issues can be challenging both for those who are new in this field and for those have worked as counselors for years. Notably, challenges can arise due to different reasons, from records maintenance to confidentiality issues, from sexual harassment issues to the duty of care. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) offers numerous services and resources that help school counselors meet moral and legal challenges comprehensively (Davis, 2015). This essay elaborates on my ethical position on the role of a school counselor.
The ASCA is a professional organization that develops school counseling programs to support counselors and counselor educators. Evidently, counselors have unique skills and qualifications to address pre-K-12 students’ careers, academic, emotional and social development needs. School counselors act as leaders, collaborators, consultants and advocates who create a systematic change by offering equitable educational success and access by connecting all school programs to improvement plans. As a school counselor, it is my duty to provide an optimal learning environment for all students. Further, I have to ensure that students’ privacy is protected. Nevertheless, cases of rape, abortion, and child neglect should always be addressed as soon as they arise (Davis, 2015). When students report such a case to a counselor, it is his/ her right to solve the matter single-handedly.
In the recent years, school counselors report an increment in the number of legal cases in school settings. Nowadays, lawsuits have become common. As a result, parents and their children are no longer intimidated by law. On the contrary, students and their parents are in a better position, being able to address their issues without infringement of their rights. For this reason, school counselors must be knowledgeable about the widespread legal concerns (Davis, 2015). Besides, they should also be well informed about how to legally and ethically counter the issues. Furthermore, school counselors need to be more morally and legally literate is to ensure that all students legal rights are protected and to avoid legal cases whenever possible.
What I Ethically Stand For as a Counselor
As a counselor, I fully understand what rights a student is entitled to when in school. I am also familiar with the ethical standards that I should maintain. Thus, I do not support unethical cases such as abortion. However, when a student reports to me seeking help on abortion, this matter must be treated with confidentiality. I owe all students a trusting relationship. However, it cannot be denied that my duties as a counselor extend beyond our students and include work with teachers, parents, administrators, community and a school district at large (Davis, 2015). It is important to note that, a student has a right to choose whether to terminate pregnancy or not. In most instances, making a decision to end pregnancy is complicated. However, the affected student should seek for pieces of advice with immediate effect. Seeking support from school counselors, family members, and healthcare professionals is recommendable (Davis, 2015). The doctor will be in a position to highlight possible health risks in for the mother-to-be and the fetus and advise the student whether to keep the baby or to have an abortion.
Nevertheless, the final decision on abortion should be made by an individual. Being a counselor, I am not entitled to urge students to make a decision they are not comfortable with. If students are under 16 years, it is advisable to inform their parents or guardians about their decision to have an abortion. However, if healthcare professionals think that abortion is in the student’s best interests and they fully understand the risks involved, it is possible to have an abortion without parents consent (Davis, 2015). There is a range of information and bits of advice to help an individual make a decision on abortion. The priority should be to see your GP. In fact, the GP will be in a better position to give medical advice and explain the procedures. In this case, the discussion will be entirely confidential. Being a counselor, I will not advise the individual to abort a pregnancy or not but rather help her process her feeling and thoughts. Fortunately, this will help the student make an informed decision.
Counselors Feelings on Tough Ethical Issues Such as Abortion, Drugs, and Violence
Counselors face various ethical dilemmas, namely those that deal with abortion, drugs, violence, bullying, and harassment. As a school counselor, I am entitled to report all incidents of violence, bullying, and sexual harassment to the school administration since they are declared illegal by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and other state and federal laws (Davis, 2015). Such cases require administrator interventions. It is the duty of the school counselors to offer appropriate services to the perpetrators and victims. Being a counselor, I should also report the suspected cases of child neglect and abuse to the competent authorities. Besides, sensible precaution should be observed when reporting the matter to the authorities in order to protect the victim’s privacy.
As a school counselor, I understand violence needs to be promptly addressed. When I realize that a student is at risk of potential violence, the ASCA and ACA ethical standards give a counselor the mandate to consult with administration or colleagues before making any decision (Davis, 2015). Being a school counselor, it is my duty to respond to violent actions immediately and develop ways to prevent it. However, school counselors must consider the welfare of offenders as well. When advisors are requested to act against potential offender, they must ethically inform the student about the measures to be taken upon him. It is the role of the school counselor and administration to take appropriate actions when a student poses a risk to schoolmates.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) grants parents some rights when it comes to their children education records (Davis, 2015). However, when a student begins to attend post-secondary school or is 18 years, the rights given by the FERPA automatically transfers to the student. Notably, all parents, even the non-custodial ones, are entitled to review their son’s/ daughter’s educational records unless the court prohibits them to have access to the files.
As a counselor I am not allowed to report statutory rape despite parent’s approval and knowledge. Counselors ought to learn and understand all current and state laws as well as their system procedures appropriate for reporting neglect and child abuse. Besides, they should be aware of the indicators and signs of ill-treatment and neglect (Davis, 2015). Counselors should also encourage training to help students and staff to gain skills and understanding essential for recognizing the signs of neglect and abuse. Furthermore, counselors should provide appropriate services for the victims of neglect and ill-treatment.
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My Stand as a Counselor Regarding the Rights of the Students I Serve
As a counselor, I am entitled to safeguard the rights of students keenly. First, information discussed between a counselor and students has to be confidential. I cannot disclose any student’s information and data to the school staff. It is important to note that all student’s information must be confidential except when legal requirements demand the information be revealed (Davis, 2015). School counselors should also be aware that even when attempts are made to obtain information, this cannot always be possible. The counselors can make counseling decisions on behalf of the students if they do not want to disclose their personal information. Students need to be knowledgeable of the goals, purposes, rules and techniques under which they may require counseling. I must adhere to all forms of laws protecting student’s records, special services and health information.
Notably, confidentiality is considered a part of ethical standards (Davis, 2015). Thus, counselors face challenges trying to balance privacy with parent’s rights. Failing to report cases of child abuse leads to civil and criminal liability. Counselors can be proactive and at the same time prevent any problems associated with confidentiality. One of the best ways is to provide parents and students with all information regarding privacy at the beginning or at the end of the school year. Besides, the information given should be available at all times. In case there is the need to reveal any student’s information, it is advisable to first notify the administrators, parents or any other relevant authority.
My second stance is to support student’s development. As a counselor, my primary role is to make sure students are treated with respect and dignity. In case a student needs outside services such as long-term clinical counseling, I should be in a position to inform the student about the situation and offer support to the student’s family or guardians. I always acknowledge the vital role of parents, families, and guardians (Davis, 2015). Besides, being a counselor, I ought to be concerned with student’s career, academic, emotional and social needs. Counselors should also encourage each student’s development. They need to respect student’s values, beliefs, gender identity and cultural background as well.
In summary, counselors play a pivotal role in student’s development, especially in school. Counselors need to maintain the ASCA ethical standards, which clearly defines their roles. Notably, counselors should not advise on any ethical dilemmas such as abortion, violence, and rape. They are supposed to address cases of school violence as soon as they occur. The final decision has to be made a student. In addition, counselors must protect student’s personal information and data. They owe students a trust relationship. Besides, school counselors should support student’s development in all possible ways. Nevertheless, parents and guardians must be acknowledged by counselors. All in all, to function properly, counselors should always adhere to the ASCA ethical standards.