Posted: May 24th, 2022
Critical Thinking Case Study Analysis of Sexual Harassment in an Educational Institution
The case study on Helen’s experience as a victim of sexual harassment in an educational institution presents a conflict often confronted by victims whenever they are torn between maintaining their privacy and the confidentiality of their experience and disclosing the truth about the victim’s sexual harassment experience. In the texts that follow, a discussion of the facts and problems presented in the case study are analyzed, particularly the significance of ethical principles when discussing issues of disclosure, privacy, and confidentiality. This case study delves into recommended paths in which the subject, Helen, could resort to in order to prevent being caught in a conflict between upholding the University’s rule for full disclosure of her case and her need to keep and maintain her privacy and her counselor’s oath of confidentiality on the said matter.
The case study presents one general issue stemming from two specific ones. The general issue centers on the conflict that Helen faces as she tries to follow University rules concerning cases of sexual harassment; she also, at the same time, feels the need to maintain her privacy on the matter. Thus a conflict emerges, where Helen is ultimately asked to decide whether she would or would not disclose her victimization. In other terms, Helen is asked to decide for herself whether she would act according to what she thinks is the most rational thing to do (following University rules on disclosure) and what she feels she must do (i.e., maintaining her privacy by keeping her anonymity and the confidentiality of her case).
The general issue of disclosure or non-disclosure of Helen’s case has two facets. The first specific issue identified in the case study is the fact that “…staff and students have been made aware…that any incident of alleged sexual harassment must be reported to the University.” As a student and victim of sexual harassment, Helen is duty-bound to report the incident of her victimization to the University. However, as was stated in the case, Helen did not file a complaint, but rather, sought the help of student counseling to help her deal with her problem.
Seeking the help of student counseling (specifically, trained clinical psychologists) was an action that created the conflict Helen is experiencing at the moment. Through counseling, Helen made it clear that she preferred to share her experience privately, and within the security of the confidentiality psychologists are bound to keep for their clients/patients. This means that even though the University deemed it necessary for a student like Helen to disclose her incident of victimization, she still opted to keep her privacy, preferring confidentiality and anonymity in order to protect herself from being involved in a sensitive issue such as sexual harassment. Helen’s actions may be construed as her own way of avoiding the stigma that inevitably results out of her being a victim of sexual harassment.
Evidently, Helen had valued her privacy greater than following University rules concerning disclosure. Her action is understandable: in most of the extant organizations’ Code of Ethics, the welfare of the patient/client is foremost than the issues of disclosure. Thus, the preferred course of action in Helen’s case is to agree with her decision to seek student counseling. The University could try to convince Helen to disclose the details of her victimization, but the University must ensure her that she would be disclosing on the condition that her privacy would not be invaded — that is, her identity would be concealed and the details of her case remain confidential unless necessary (e.g., discussing and presenting her case for the dismissal of the individual responsible for Helen’s victimization). However, should Helen decide to refuse to reveal her case, the University must respect her decision. Also, her counselor would be duty-bound to Helen, not the University, to help Helen get over the ordeal she had just dealt and will be dealing with.
From Helen’s case, it is evident that her welfare must be considered first above anything else. Maintaining her privacy and if possible, keeping her identity anonymous and case confidential (if she requests these) are the most effective ways in which she will be able to deal with her problem.
It is thus recommended that the University must ensure Helen that her privacy would not be invaded, should it pursue to convince her to disclose the details of her victimization. The University can argue that her case would help the institution deal effectively and justly to future incidences of sexual harassment and be able to provide Helen with the justice that she deserves, having been unfairly taken advantage by another individual under the University’s authority.
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