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When working with people in your community to solve complex social problems, it is important to be prepared to prevent ethical and moral issues that may arise. An ethical issue is any issue that violates the Ethical Standards for Human Services Professionals. Examples include imposing your own values or biases into discussions about how to solve a problem, failing to incorporate multicultural considerations into the solution, and engaging in dual relationships with service users who are adversely affected by the problem. A moral issue is any issue that conflicts with your own personal values or beliefs. For example, if the social problem is a lack of access to quality healthcare in a rural community, some practitioners may have a moral issue with doctors who refuse to accept Medicaid.

Practitioners must also be prepared to address power differentials that may be present when addressing a social problem. Power differentials often occur when there is a concentration of power among people in formal, high-level positions (e.g., public officials, legislators, executive directors of non-profits) and a lack of power among those who are most adversely affected by the problem (e.g., community residents, service users, etc.).

In this Discussion, you will consider how to prevent ethical and moral issues that may arise when solving the social problem that you selected for your Final Project. You will also examine how to address power differentials that may be present.

To Prepare

  • Review the Learning Resources on ethics, morals, and culture. Identify potential ethical and moral issues that may arise when solving the social problem that you selected for your Final Project. Then, consider how you could prevent these issues.
  • Review the Learning Resources on power. When solving the social problem that you selected, reflect on who has the power to make decisions and influence the outcome and who lacks the power to do so. Then, consider how you could minimize those power differentials. 

Post a brief description of the social problem that you chose for your Final Project. Then, explain one ethical dilemma and one moral dilemma that could arise when solving the problem as well as the power differentials that may be present. Finally, explain how you would prevent the ethical and moral dilemmas and address the power differentials in your role as an advanced human services professional practitioner. Be sure to incorporate the Ethical Standards for Human Services Professionals into your explanation.  

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Poverty in Hawaii

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Poverty in Oahu, Hawaii

Based on what I have learned from peers, instructors, and learning resources, Hawaii is considered to have the 4th largest gap between its supplemental poverty rate and its official poverty rate. According to the United States Census Bureau, 13.7% of the population or 192,000 individuals in Hawaii are considered to be living in poverty (Moore, 2019). Though the countries official poverty rate compares to that of the rest of the United States, research shows that the country is struggling more than the other countries.

Over the past years, it has been framed that there are more children who live in high-poverty neighborhoods, and more than a quarter of the children living with their families the parents do not have a secure job. Research shows that there were more than 40,000 children under the age of eight lives in poverty by the year 2008, and the number is considered to be increasing over the years. Other surveys show that the census information may have undercounted the Native Hawaiians, who are very low-income people compared to the non-native Hawaiians. As a result of foreigners in Hawaii, there have been economic changes across the Hawaiian Islands, and the change in the economy brought about problems that still affect the country. In the past, most of the Hawaiians had no idea of what poverty was, but now they have been affected by the economic change to the point that they even live in the streets with no fresh water and food.

The people-first language is focused on the equality, individuality, and dignity of the individuals experiencing disability. The strength-based language is more focused on eliminating the adverse attribute that makes a person devalue another person. It involves eliminating the stigma that prevents people from assisting in a social problem. For instance, in the case of poverty in Hawaii, the people-first language can explain that individuals who experience the highest poverty rates in Hawaii are the Native Hawaiians who are mostly homeless. More than 200,000 individuals living on the island of Hawaii are experiencing poverty as a result of the high cost of living. Using strength-based language, the social problem of poverty in Hawaii can be explained by the individuals living in poverty in Hawaii who have mostly been affected by the economic change introduced by foreigners who started to live in Hawaii. As the government introduced the new market economy, the people living in Hawaii were not aware of the market economy, and this had a big effect on the Hawaiian natives.

MCFL Systems Thinking Framework

System thinking is a framework that is applied for reasoning and treating real-world problems depending on the basic notion of the system, which is the purposeful integration of components. The main objective of system thinking is to comprehend the connection between components and their effect on system results and how a similarly interesting system would fit in the context of its environment (Grohs, Kirk, Soledad & Knight 2018). From Stroh’s text, he presents the MCFL system thinking framework, which is a catalyst of purposeful change in a system. Stroh suggests that some system thinkers can benefit from comprehending how to manage change and the change agents that can benefit from comprehending the main principles and tools in system thinking. Though systems can be perfectly designed to achieve something, they sometimes do not achieve what they want or expect from them. Using the MCFL system of thinking framework in Stroh’s text, the problem of poverty in Hawaii can be described using motivation, collaboration, focus, and learning in the framework.

Motivation

The social problem of poverty in Hawaii affects more than 200,000 individuals who live on the island. Most of the individuals affected by poverty are the native Hawaiians who had adapted to provide for themselves through the natural resources, making them self-sufficient using the trading system rather than the selling of goods. The introduction of a new economy that used the market system of selling what was produced and not the subsistence economy of barter trade greatly impacted their living style and cost. The main cause of poverty in Hawaii is the introduction of a new market economy. Due to this, there is a need for change in the new economy to enable the Hawaiians to adapt to the new economy. Change is required since the current market economy in Hawaii does not assist the poor hardworking citizens to increase their economic base.

Collaboration

The issue of poverty in Hawaii mostly affects citizens who do not have stable jobs that would provide for their families. More than half of the Population in Hawaii are affected by poverty since they struggle financially even if they work three jobs on a daily basis as a result of the poor economic management in the country. Even with minimal expenses, it is difficult for people to save money for future use. The main stakeholder of the high rate of poverty is the Hawaiian government who have failed to take control of their economy, making the lower class find it very hard to manage their finances. The citizens of Hawaii are also stakeholders in the issue of poverty in Hawaii.

Focus

To solve poverty in Hawaii, both the government and the citizens should work together to find ways to solve the problem in their market economy. Citizens, particularly those from the middle and lower class, have to collaborate with the government officials to make the necessary changes that would enable the citizens to adapt to the market economy. The government has to find a strategy of fixing their economy so that it does not greatly affect those in the middle and lower class in Hawaii.

Learning

Since the public is the ones who are most affected by the issues of poverty in the country, they have to make sure that they are actively involved in stressing for change or improvement in the country’s economy. Even when the public struggle with more than two jobs, they still find it difficult to save money for future needs due to poor economic management. The public has to find a way of improving their economy through the assistance of their government. The only thing missing to reduce the high rate of poverty in the country is government support to balance the economy. Since this is a social problem, the best languages that should be used to frame it is the person-first and the strength-based language since they consider the people involved and eliminates stigma at the same time.

The main difference between using the linear approach and the system thinking approach to address poverty in Hawaii is that the linear approach does not focus on the complex system but rather focuses on one of the system’s features. On the other hand, the system thinking approach focuses on the complex system and connects the different features of the system (Shaked, Schechter, Ganon-Shilon & Goldratt, 2017). The linear approach is focused on breaking the issues into different pieces of the problem and then trying to fix the problem’s symptoms. On the other hand system, the thinking approach takes the problem as a whole and applies the process to find the underlying dynamics of the problem.

References

Grohs, J. R., Kirk, G. R., Soledad, M. M., & Knight, D. B. (2018). Assessing systems thinking: A tool to measure complex reasoning through ill-structured problems. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 28, 110-130.

Shaked, H., Schechter, C., Ganon-Shilon, S., & Goldratt, M. (2017). Systems thinking for school leaders. Dordrecht: Springer.

Moore, C. D. (2019). Hawaii: Priced Out of Paradise. California Journal of Politics and Policy, 11(1).

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