Case study 4.2

  • What are your legal responsibilities within this scenario?
  • What are your ethical responsibilities within this scenario?
  • Are there any tensions between these two areas?

When considering this scenario you may feel some sympathy for Louise and the pressures that she is currently facing. You may also feel concerned that reporting the fact that she has hit Simon will cause her additional stress and that you will be breaking confidentiality. However, it is also important that you recognise that a number of people in this scenario may be at risk of harm.

First legislation relating to safeguarding children makes it clear that the welfare of a child takes precedence over all other considerations. You are therefore required to report the fact that Simon has been physically abused even though you may feel tension between your ethical and legal responsibilities. However, it also important that you remember that the aim of any intervention in relation to safeguarding is to keep children safe wherever possible in the context of their family. This means that Louise’s current situation will be taken into account in any investigation and that it may result in her receiving additional support rather than in Simon being taken into care.

Mrs Lucas, Louise’s mother, is also at risk in this situation. It is noted that she can be both verbally and physically aggressive if she is prevented from engaging in activities that place her at risk of harm. It may, therefore, be that additional support is required to meet her needs and that the need to formally deprive her of her liberty under the provisions of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 may need to be considered.

Finally Louise herself is at risk of harm due to the stress she is currently under. Even though you may feel an ethical dilemma regarding taking such action you are professionally and legally required to do so. By reporting her current situation it may be that she will receive additional support and that there will be a positive outcome.