Ethical dilemmas

Sometimes your personal values and principles do not match the values and principles of the organisation/agency you are working for. To complicate matters, ethical dilemmas rarely arise in the form of stark choices between absolute right and absolute wrong. They are usually not 'black' or 'white' as the saying goes.

These situations are called ethical dilemmas; they can cause a great deal of inner conflict and concern. Common ethical dilemmas encountered within disability work include issues relating to gift-giving and sexual behaviour. Youth workers should be particularly aware of issues relating to professional boundaries.

It is important that you acknowledge such situations and discuss the matter with your supervisor or mentor, to make a decision about how you can best deal with the situation.

Case study: Ethical dilemmas

Read the case study below and answer the question that follows. Enter your response into the text box provided.

Jan is a youth worker and is assisting young women in supported accommodation. Liza comes to her to tell her she is pregnant and to ask for her help to arrange for an abortion. Jan is a staunch Right to Life advocate and is against abortion, so this is a great dilemma for her as she also values self-determination.

She explains to Liza that she has these conflicting inner values and asks Liza to consider asking another worker to support her, through this process.


Jan has responded very professionally to this situation. What has Jan done correctly?


Last modified: Wednesday, 12 December 2018, 12:27 PM