For this assignment you will be reading a case scenario in your text and responding to some questions related to the impact of the environment on behavior and choices, the impact of the client-human services professional relationship, and how identifying potential ethical issues and the National Organization for Human Services (NOHS) Ethical Standards can help guide you in working with clients.

CASE SENERIO Portrait of a Single Father

Gary didn’t know what to do. Linda had just ruined his day and probably his life. She had just told him that she was pregnant. How could this happen? What could he do?

Gary, a 17-year-old high school sophomore, had never done very well in school and had even flunked sixth grade once. Ever since then, he’d been taking special ed classes and was just barely squeaking by.

He had always considered himself a freak. He liked to do a lot of drugs—that is, whenever he had the money to get them. He also liked to listen to booming hip-hop and was intimately familiar with radio station WROK’s top-ten hits. His uniform included well-patched blue jeans, construction-worker boots, and 18-inch-long, somewhat scraggly, greasy hair.

Beneath this exterior, Gary was an extremely sensitive person. He really cared about other people, although sometimes he had trouble showing it. This thing about Linda and a baby had really shaken him up. He really loved Linda. In fact, she was the best thing that had ever happened to him. She actually cared about him. It seemed like nobody had ever done that before. Gary really didn’t have much self-confidence. The fact that Linda cared simply amazed him.

Gary lived in Chicago with his mother and younger sister, Hillary, age 11. He cared about Hillary, but they really didn’t have much in common. There was too much of an age difference. Sometimes they stuck up for each other, though, when their mother went out with some new boyfriend and came home drunk. That happened pretty often. His mother was really something else. It seemed like she loved him, but she had always had a horrible problem accepting responsibility. A lot of times he felt like he had to take care of her, instead of vice versa. No, she wasn’t one to depend on much.

Another problem was that they were dirt poor. He could never remember having a lot of things. For years he had wanted to learn how to play the guitar. He picked one up two years ago at a sleazy neighborhood auction, but it never 290291really sounded like much. The other problem, of course, was that he felt he had absolutely no talent. He often thought the guitar looked good, though, sitting on an old peach crate in his basement room, his place of retreat.

Sometimes Gary thought about his father out in Utah. Although he had only seen him once in the last 10 years, he talked to him sometimes on the phone on holidays. His big dream was to go out and live with his dad and his dad’s new family. Gary liked nature and camping. He thought that Utah would be the perfect place to go to and get away. In his more somber moments, he realized this was only a dream. His dad was pleasant enough on the phone, but he knew he really didn’t care. It was fun to think about sometimes though. Sometimes when he got a better batch of drugs, he’d just sit in his room and think. He dreamed of all the wonderful things he’d do in Utah. That’s what it was, though, just a dream.

Gary dreamed a lot. He didn’t have much hope for the future. He thought that was pretty hopeless. One of his teachers asked him once if he ever thought about going to college. College, hah! How could he ever afford to go to college. He couldn’t even afford a Super Big Kmart guitar. The other problem was how poorly he always did in school. He stopped really studying years ago. Now he was so far behind he knew he’d never catch up. He didn’t like to think much about the future. There was no future in it.

But now Gary’s problem was Linda—Linda and the baby. It’s funny how he already thought of it as a baby even though it wasn’t born yet. He liked the thought of having something that was really his. He liked Linda, too, and he didn’t want to lose her. She was crying when she told him she was pregnant. He bet she’d like it if they lived together, or maybe even got married. Then he could move out of his mother’s apartment. He could be free and on his own. He could drop out of school. School wasn’t much anyhow. Maybe he could get that second-shift job slinging burgers at the local hamburger shack. That wouldn’t be too bad. He could see his friends there. They could have a good time.

Yeah, that’s what he’d do. He’d do a good thing for once in his life. He’d marry Linda and be a father. Maybe everything would be all right then. Maybe they’d all live happily ever after.


Gary and Linda did get married 10 months later. By then, Linda had given birth to a 6-pound, 8-ounce baby boy whom they named Billy. The problem was that things really didn’t get any better. They didn’t change much at all. Gary was still poor. Now, however, he was poor but with adult responsibilities. He still couldn’t afford a guitar. He had to go to work at the hamburger shack every day at 5:00 p.m. just like he used to have to go to school every morning. There wasn’t much money for him and Linda to have any fun with. As a matter of fact, there wasn’t much money to do anything much at all. Their small apartment was pretty cramped. Sometimes the baby’s crying drove him almost crazy. He and Linda weren’t doing too well either. When they weren’t fighting, they weren’t talking. Things hadn’t changed much at all; he still didn’t have much hope for the future.


This case example isn’t meant to portray the thoughts of a typical teenage father. For example, Gary was very poor. In reality teenage parents originate in all socioeconomic levels. However, this example is intended to illustrate the lack of experience and information adolescents often have available to them. Without information, it’s difficult to make insightful, well-founded decisions. A major job of a social worker is to help young people in a situation like this rationally think through the alternatives available to them. Potential services need to be talked about, and plans need to be made. Young people often need both support and suggestions regarding how to proceed. They need to examine their expectations about the future and make certain that they’re being realistic

Next go to www.nationalhumanservices.org website and review the NOHS Ethical Standards for Human Service Professionals.

After reading the case study and NOHS Ethical Standards, reflect on the situation Gary finds himself in, his environment, and possible ethical considerations in the case and that the worker may need to consider as part of an ethical approach to the client and his family. Answer the following:

  1. Discuss how Gary’s environment has influenced his behavior and decision-making during his adolescence.

  2. Discuss how working with a Human Service Professional (HSP) in a reciprocal relationship may help Gary change his behavior and decision-making to address his current life challenges.

  3. Considering the case study details and the NOHS Ethical Standards, identify one ethical concern you would have when working with Gary and/or his family. Provide one NOHS Ethical Standard that you believe would be important to apply in this case to ensure this ethical issue is addressed within the client and HSP relationship. Refer to the specific NOHS Ethical Standard in your response.

  4. Discuss one specific way using ethical standards impacts the behavior of a HSP when working with clients such as Gary.

  5. Provide the name and contact information for one human service agency you believe a HSP could refer Gary to in order to provide assistance with his current issues. Explain how you believe this agency could specifically assist Gary.

  6. Considering your responses to the assignment questions, explain how Gary’s case outcome might change from the ending offered in the case study epilogue. Discuss how familiarity with ethical standards and available resources strengthened the relationship between the Human Service Professional and Gary in your response.

    Your paper should be 6 complete paragraphs, resulting in approximately 2 pages of text in addition to the cover page and the final reference page. It also should be free of spelling and grammatical errors. Your Assignment should be double-spaced, using a 12 point Times New Roman font. APA FORMAT.

    Your Assignment should include a cover page and a final reference page where you cite your course text and any other sources you choose to include in the paper. The only required sources are your text and NOHS Ethical Standards of Human Service Professionals.

    Citing Sources

    It is important to always attribute credit to the proper sources when relying on the text, articles, websites, or other sources. You must credit your work when you:

  • Summarize concepts and theories that you learned in the text, articles, or internet sources.

  • Use others’ ideas, theories, and concepts in constructing Discussion topic responses or completing Assignments.

  • Use direct quotes in the context of your paper (when quoting directly, you must use quotation marks).

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