What would I do?
Principle A: Beneficence and Nonmaleficence states “Psychologists strive to benefit those with whom they work and take care to do no harm” (www.apa.org/ethics/codecode/index.aspx). Taking this principle into consideration I would have to ask myself if placing these children in Catholic orphanage would cause them harm. The principle says “no harm” which at first glance can be subjective. These children have already experienced harm and placing them in the orphanage would keep them physically safe. However if removed from their natural environment, nearby village, the children would likely experience further trauma and be harmed psychologically. Adhering to this principle it would be my responsibility to examine the possibilities of placement further. This situation would require wearing the hat of an investigator, educator, advocate, and collaborator.
Being charged with helping children reunite with their families, would leave me compelled to research any possibility of family placement prior to discharging a child to the orphanage. I would further talk with the children and gather concrete information on the family members they identified that they could be placed with. Detailed information would be obtained, to the extent that it could be, to include; location, biological relationship, and house hold size of the relatives. Visiting, if possible and permissible, the village to determine the validity of placement option for the children, would be my next step.
Once all the facts were gathered, I would request a meeting with the acting director. In the meeting I would inquire about the specifications of the discharge protocol for the children. Every effort would be made on my behalf to ensure that I totally understood the discharge process for the children and what family they could be reunited with. Explanation of the ethical conflict of being “charged with giving the children and families a chance to process the trauma and to help them reunite with their families to make discharge plans” and not being able to exhaust local family placement options would be presented. Sharing the importance of “Avoiding Harm” (APA Ethics Standard 3: Human Rights) to the children in the time of crisis, by not displacing them unnecessarily would be emphasized in my communication with the acting director. IASC Operational Guidelines on Human Rights and Natural Disasters – Brooks-Bern Project on Internal Displacement identifies “Separated and unaccompanied children...