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Law Versus Morality: Cases and Commentaries on Ethical Issues in Social Work Practice

Odo, Casmir Obinna and Nwatu, Uche Louisa and Makkieh, Manal and Ametepe, Perfect Elikplim Kobla and Banks, Sarah (2023) 'Law Versus Morality: Cases and Commentaries on Ethical Issues in Social Work Practice.', Ethics and Social Welfare, 17 (1). pp. 83-89.


This article examines two cases that present ethical challenges encountered by social workers in making decisions either to maintain professional boundaries or fulfil moral obligations while working with service users in vulnerable situations. In the first case, a Lebanese social worker narrates how she was motivated to step out of her official responsibilities to assist a refugee mother of three who showed suicidal ideation. In the second case, a Ugandan social worker recounts her experience while working with a family whose 12-year-old daughter was raped and became pregnant, but whose parents refused to accept abortion when medical diagnosis showed that the girl’s life was in danger. A commentary from the authors is provided after each case. Both social workers were arguably motivated to act based on their concern to care for people, protect human rights, and save lives in the two case scenarios. This underscores the relevance of the ethics of care and virtue ethics in describing the associated ethical challenges in both cases. Furthermore, the dynamic nature of the ethical challenges encountered by the social workers demands open minds and flexibility in decision-making.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Date accepted:21 August 2022
Date deposited:26 September 2022
Date of first online publication:13 September 2022
Date first made open access:26 September 2022

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