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Read the case below and discuss 1. Confidentiality vs protection of life 2. Protection of life vs autonomy and freedom 3. What is the best course of action? Mdm Tan (aged 30), who has 4 children, suffers from spousal violence. She had contemplated divorce but never did. As a result of the spousal violence, Mdm Tan became depressed and had attempted suicide several times since last year. She also told her children she wanted to die with them as she did not want to leave them behind. Serene, 9, her eldest child, shared this in confidence with her Full Time School Counsellor (FTSC). Mdm Tan was referred to the Child Protection Service (CPS). Following Mdm Tan’s discharge, the children were returned to her care at the family’s request. CPS shared with Mdm Tan their concerns and explored safety plans for the children. Mdm Tan proposed that she move out of the house with the children as she had already made up her mind to divorce Mr Lim, a drug abuser. She also agreed to continue with treatment for her depression. Three months after the children’s return, Serene shared with FTSC more information and pleaded with FTSC not to tell her Child Protection Officer (CPO) or her mother what she had shared. This is because the latter had warned her that if CPO will place her and her siblings in foster care again if they are aware of the information. FTSC shared the information with CPO in confidence after she explained to Serene that she had to inform CPO so that they can get help for Mdm Tan. When CPO spoke with Mdm Tan about her bringing the children to meet Mr Lim, she denied. She demanded to know the source of CPO’s information and alleged that someone is “making up story to destroy my family”. She accused CPO of not trusting her and being concerned only for the children. She also demanded that CPO close her case and leave her family alone as they had been doing fine the past 3 months. Ethical social work practice Ministry of social and family development (April 9, 2018). Self determination or child safety? How far should one be allowed to make his/her own decisions?


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