The Duty to Warn in Social Work Practice: Advocating Ethically in Writing

For this assignment, you will take on the role of an advocate. In social work practice, advocacy comes in many different forms. One of the ways in which social workers advocate is by bringing significant issues to the attention of supervisors, boards of directors, administrators, and others who have power to institute changes if they see fit to do so. Often, social workers have limited time (oral reports) or space (written reports) to make impactful statements. For this assignment, you will have the experience of writing a ‘white paper.’ (See the below box Writing a White Paper for specific instructions on how to do so.)

The ‘white paper’ you will be writing has the aim of convincing a non-profit social work agency’s board of directors that your informed opinion about a social worker’s duty to warn is correct. You will need to decide which guidelines for a social worker’s duty to warn are the most ethically correct: the guidelines put forth by the Tarasoff decision, or Herbert’s proposed guidelines. In order to compose your ‘white paper,’ you will need to address the below points briefly, specifically, and convincingly.

How are the current duty to warn rules (based on the Tarasoff decision) different from Herbert’s proposed rules?

In your informed opinion based on this Module’s readings, are Herbert’s (2002) suggested rules that contain more leeway better than the current duty to warn rules? Why or why not?

Tarasoff Big Idea Question: What do you believe would be the intended and unintended consequences for social workers and social work practice if Herbert’s (2002) suggested rules regarding the duty to warn were instituted in place of the current rules that are based on the Tarasoff decision?

According to Cullen (2018, para. 2), (Links to an external site.) “A white paper is an authoritative document intended to fully inform the reader on a particular topic. It combines expert knowledge and research into a document that argues for a specific solution or recommendation. The white paper allows the reader to understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.”

White papers have catchy titles like Out With the Old Tarasoff and In With the New Herbert. (Well, maybe that one isn’t so catchy, but you get the idea.) They are chock full of solid information and do not have any flowery or extra language or wording. They are clear, specific, concise, and informative. White papers seek to convince the readers that the paper’s subject is the best option.

Specifications for Your White Paper

Length: Your white paper must be a minimum of one full page (double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point font with regular margins) and no longer than two pages in length. Remember that social workers often have small allotments of space for advocacy!

Format: Put your name in the header so that it does not take up any of the lines of text on the page. No title page is required. Include a References page and corresponding in-text citations. The References page does not count toward the length of the paper.

Clarity: Use correct grammar, wording, sentence structure, and correct basic writing skills. Be convincing! Be specific! Remember, you have a maximum of 2 pages to get your points across!

Academic Integrity: Use your own words in this white paper. Do not use direct quotes in this assignment. Paraphrase fully to demonstrate your understanding of the required content. Please cite all information that comes from sources—but ensure that you have paraphrased the ideas fully. Please consult resources if you are unsure how to go about paraphrasing completely. This assignment will be checked for plagiarism when it is turned in.

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