A Framework for the Inclusion of Ethics in Youth Work Education and Training
Ethics is the study of moral obligation involving the distinction between what is right and what is wrong and this is influenced by a person’s values and beliefs. Values are abstract ideas that shape actions and are developed and nurtured through upbringing, education and maturation. NSETS has responsibility for the standards of education and training of youth workers in Ireland and this includes concern for the values and practices inculcated during professional formation. To date endorsement panels have examined in a broad general manner the values and ethics included in programmes.
The aim of this paper is to articulate and make explicit the ethical considerations to be included in youth work professional formation programmes and is based on a vision of ethical practice in youth work. While primarily a document to promote discussion on ethics in youth work education and training programmes it is also hoped that, through engagement with Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and the youth work sector in general, a wider discussion on ethics in youth work will be stimulated. Such a discussion may eventually lead to agreement on standards of behaviour for youth workers and the development of a formal code of ethical practice.
The contents of this paper are based upon a review of a number of existing ‘codes’ of ethics from other countries whose understanding youth work is aligned to the understanding here on the island of Ireland. This paper is intended to be a basis for discussion and includes the salient features advocated by these codes. An ethical framework could never hope to embrace all the circumstances in which a youth worker may find her/himself on a daily basis nor can it be a manual on how to act in specific situations.