A Comparative Study of the State of Ethics in Youth Work Practice in Jamaica, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom
Even though youth work has played a critical role in fostering the holistic development of today’s youth, much controversy has surrounded the practice. Nevertheless, youth workers are slowly being accorded professional status, and a code of ethics has been developed in some jurisdictions. Some states are still to adopt this code; consequently the credibility of youth workers and the sector in general sway with the wind. This article presents a comparative analysis of ethical practices of youth work in Jamaica, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, examining current trends in observing ethics and addressing ethical issues. In the case of Jamaica, the researcher used the non-probability convenience sampling technique and collected primary data from a questionnaire administered to a sample of youth workers. The perspective of the ministerial arm responsible for youth work in Jamaica was also captured through an interview. In the case of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, the framework of the profession and specifically matters pertaining to ethical practices were examined through the use of secondary data sources, which included reports on youth work practices in the selected countries. A mixed methodology was employed in analysing the data collected. The major findings of this study confirmed that advancing youth work as a profession is dependent on the acceptance and integration of a formal code of ethics, that youth workers must receive training on ethics and that a national youth work policy is important to guide youth work practice. In accordance with the findings, the researcher makes a number of recommendations and highlights notable best practices that may help with the overall professionalisation of the sector.
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