Responsibility is our third ethical core value. As you know, life is full of choices and it means being in charge of our choices and in our lives. It means being accountable for what we do and who we are. We need to recognize what we do and what we don’t do. We need to grow in our accountability and not blame others for what we did nor claim credit that it was me not him. There are people that rely on our knowledge, willingness and ability to so things for others effectively. Responsibility takes on people who are reliable, careful and informed. Responsible people finish what they start rather than giving up to excuses and obstacles. Responsible people look for ways to do their work better and exercise self-control. They never feel that it’s necessary to win at any cost.
Our next part of ethical core values is “fairness.”
Dilemma about Annette:
She is a program administrator with Developmental Services. Annette’s daughter Carrie is a best friend with Jane, the daughter of a legislator who happens to sit on the senate’s Children and Families committee. The DA overheard Annette discussing an upcoming party to celebrate Jane’s birthday. Carrie and several other friends have been invited to go to Disney World for the weekend to celebrate Jane’s birthday – all paid for by Jane’s grandfather. Annette is considering attending the festivities as a chaperone since there will be five 13-year old girls. The DA is somewhat concerned because of the position Jane’s father holds.
Question: As the DA, what is the right decision?
In summary so far, Trustworthiness as one of the key core ethical values has left us thinking in the past six parts about detecting situations in regards to using honesty with truthfulness, sincerity/non-deception and frankness. It showed us to be honest in our conduct not allowing using trickery in our thinking behavior. It helped us to focus on upholding this value where we may sacrifice another. Then we added integrity to trustworthiness where the person of integrity takes time for self-reflection so that the events, crises and the necessities of the day do not determine the course of the moral life but to be careful of self-interest and self-deception. Added to these elements was reliability or when we make promises or commitments to people our ethical duties go beyond legal obligations. The ethical dimension of promise keeping imposes the responsibility of making all reasonable efforts to fulfill our commitments. Finally, last week, loyalty was about promoting and protecting the interests of your school, parents, children, organizations and/or affiliations.
Respect is the second core value and it is about honoring the essential worth and dignity of all people, including oneself. We are morally obligated to treat everyone with respect, regardless of who they are and what they have done. We have a responsibility to be the best we can be in all situations, even when dealing with unpleasant people. It is so hard for us to forgive the unpleasant manager or friend that hurts you but when we do forgive with sincerely and from the heart, it will leave you with such a great feeling of relief and peace.
Respect focuses on courtesy and decency. This respect adds in us of becoming a good listener, treating others with consideration, accepting notions of tastes which does not resort to intimidation and coercion (forcing in gaining compliance) and is able to maintain order, teach discipline in affected ways and help the child to achieve. The child will see you not only as a great teacher of respect but a super role model. Is is not wonderful to see that child taking this guidance of respect and trustworthiness you taught with them into their future? Next week, the third core values will be responsibility.
As usual before we leave today, here is another scenario about Kenneth to solve from this ethical dilemma: Bill is the only male staff member of your school. Bill’s friend has told John about some bizarre and disturbing behavior about Kenneth who is five-years old. Other staff is concerned that Kenneth needs some professional help. However, later, Bill finds out that Kenneth does not meet the eligibility requirements needed to receive professional help. Bill was asked by the director of the school to provide private therapy for Kenneth, even though he does not have any experience in private practice.
Question: If you were Bill, what is the best decision to make for Kenneth and his therapy? How do you respect your director with his idea?
The final part of “trustworthiness is loyalty! Webster says “it is feeling strong support for someone or something! ” With leadership groups, we are to be a team working together at the same goals! It is the same for our schools and our children! We want to make it our best to have our children ready for society! Loyalty is about promoting and protecting the interests of certain people, children, organizations or affiliations. We see this with — husband-wife, employer-employee, citizen-country – which should create an expectation of loyalty. It is important that we:
- Prioritize Loyalties. We have a loyal school with a director, teacher and teacher aids that work together and because of this, there are many parents and groups that believe in our school and the loyalty claims and sometimes it is often impossible to honor all of them at the same time. Consequently, we must rank our loyalty obligations in some rational fashion. In our personal lives, for example, it’s perfectly reasonable, and ethical, to look out for the interests of our children, parents and spouses even if we have to subordinate our obligations to other children, neighbors, or co-workers in doing so.
- Safeguarding Confidential Information. Loyalty requires us to keep secrets or information learned in confidence. That certainly is a hard thing for us to do. It is like signing the document at the doctor’s office that guarantees the information on that paper not to be shared with others. I remember 2 teachers at a school sharing their thoughts about a problem-child but however they conversed in front of that child. We must be careful how we do things.
- Avoiding Conflicting Interests. We have that additional responsibility to make all professional decisions on merit not personal interests. I know I had my favorites working with children but we are responsible for all the children in the classrooms. We need for the children and parents to trust us.
So we see that “trustworthiness” concerns a variety of behavioral qualities — honesty, integrity, reliability and loyalty.
We will continue next time with the second “Core Ethical Value” which is respect!
I wonder how you’ve been doing with your ethical dilemmas? Here is one on Greta:
Greta, a 20-year-old, mildly developmentally disabled female client recently has aged out of the state system. Sam, your employee and Greta’s social worker of 4-years, is considering allowing Greta to rent a spare bedroom in his home. Sam currently has an additional 27-year old male renter who will continue to stay in the home after Greta moves in.
Greta’s foster parents would like her to continue to live with them; however, Greta has expressed a desire to live on her own.
Sam has come to you to discuss the situation. He feels there is nothing wrong with renting Stella the room and he has made comments that suggest that he is willing to help her with some of the difficulties she will face living on her own for the first time (e.g., grocery shopping, banking, budgeting, etc.)
Question: But what is the right decision?