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When working in a situation where the clients have trust in you but their behavior can be extreme, will always place a counselor in a dilemma where they should use extreme caution. It is very difficult to gain the trust of many gang members. Many of them joined gangs because they had no one else to turn to and the gang gave them a group of people they feel they can rely on. Therefore, I would do my best to keep their trust, but also protect my community, protect myself, and protect my clients.
It is important to understand how many gangs operate as well as their mindset towards people who inform law enforcers of their criminal activities. Providing this information is known as â€œsnitching,â€ which is defined by freedictionary.com as, â€œTo act as an informer.â€ According to Kristen Mack via Mitru Ciarlante, director of the youth initiative for the National Center for Victims of Crime, â€œIn crime-ridden neighborhoods, abiding by the anti-snitching principle is akin to a “code of honor.” The issue with being an informant is the danger that I potentially put myself in with the local gangs. John Fountain says, â€œSnitching can get you killed. That much I understood growing up in the â€˜hood.â€ This mean I have to prioritize what information I would consider offering to law enforcers and what information I feel is not worth my safety.
Starting off, I would not report any crimes, regardless of severity, that occurs between two or more gangs. Many gang members believe in â€œstreet justice,â€ which is â€œThe punishment given by members of the public to people regarded as criminals or wrongdoers,â€ according to dictionary.com. “A lot of times we’ll have victims who are shot, and they refuse to cooperate with us because they’re going to go out and find a gun and extract street justice on their own,” (Mack, 2009). Consequently, adding myself into an issue between gang members would bring unwanted attention on myself. Another crime I would not report to law enforcers that my clients might inform me of is minor crimes. Reporting small crimes may not lead to major consequences for any for the individuals involved. Thus, I would put myself in danger of being viewed as an informant and I would lose the trust of my clients I am currently working with as well as all the potential clients I will receive in the future. This will also make me feel concerned about my safety when I am in that community because if members in that community do not trust me then I may be viewed as an enemy.
One type of crime I feel I am obligated to report is serious crimes committed against citizens that were not officiated with gangs in no way. These crimes would include murder, rape, arson, and kidnappings but the officers will have to keep my identity anonymous. Law enforcers can do their best to keep me protected from suspected gang members but they cannot guarantee my safety, so any information they receive from me must be held in confidentiality and off the record. These crimes are too serious and involve individuals that did not choose to participate in criminal activities like gang members chose to. This is not to say that gang members should not be protected or be reported, but I am not able to risk my well-being for individuals that chose to commit the acts they committed. But it gets to the point that some crimes that gang members commit is unnecessary and intolerable and I must take a stand against it. Even though taking a stand in this situation may be a dangerous one. In the end, I still feel it is a necessary to protect members of that community by at least informing the law enforcers of information I heard about it.
I feel my ethical obligation should not go pass my safety and well-being when it comes to inform law enforcers of information gang members or gang hangers-on discuss with me. Even though I feel the need to protect my clients and members of that community, I have a bigger obligation to protect myself, my family, my friends, and the other members of the community center and not put their lives in danger. Another obligation I feel I would have is protecting my clients. One way I would try to achieve that is helping them understand why they should not be involved in the situation they are involve with. I will use any and all the crimes they told me about to help convince them why it is a bad decision to be associated with gang members. I would use statistics, data, and research to give them as many facts as I could to help them make an informed decision and the dangers and lives of a gang member. Another thing I would do to protect myself in this environment is remind all my clients that this is a community center and it is supposed to be a safe spot for many individuals. Therefore, it may be cameras or other surveillance equipment within the building; therefore, do not tell me anything that they do not want anyone else to hear. I will tell them this even if there are no surveillance equipment in the building just in case they still offer any information that I feel the need to report. This would make it more believable if I have to deny that it was me that gave any law enforcer any information. I would remind them of the cameras/surveillance equipment in the building and anybody could have reviewed it from there. Hopefully, if I am ever in a situation when I have to report anything to law enforcers, my client would believe me, still trust me, and vouch for me if other gang members suspect it was me. This is one of the few ways I can protect myself while fulfilling my obligation to protect innocent members of this community.
Fountain, J. W. (2017). Survival 101: Thou Shalt Not Snitch. Huffpost. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/survival-101-thou-s…