By Kaitlin Vanderhoff, LCSW
The New Jersey Society for Clinical Social Work is filled with members and leaders who are, by our very nature, advocates for social justice and equality. With the progression of the Black Lives Matter movement we felt it was important to publish a message as a means of showing support and as a reminder of our responsibilities as social workers to be knowledgeable advocates for such causes.
As Social Workers many of the articles in our code ethics direct us to both seek to understand and advocate for those who face oppression.
For instance, Article 1.05 says “(c) Social Workers should obtain education about and seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status and mental of physical ability."
Not only are we bound to be aware of social diversity and oppression and its impact in our society but we are further bound to engage in political action and advocate for these groups. Article 6.04 states that “(a) Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice."
The final article I will mention, which doesn’t even encompass all of the articles surrounding this issue within the code of ethics is Article 6.04 (d) which reads that, “Social Workers should act to prevent and eliminate domination of, exploration of, and discrimination against any person, group, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, martial status, political belief, religion, immigration status or mental of physical disability."
With so many articles in the code of ethics for social workers it can be difficult to always remember what we once pledged to follow and stand for as social workers. My hope is that this article will serve as a reminder on behalf of the NJSCSW of what our responsibilities are as social workers and the importance of our participation during this difficult and revolutionary time in history.