Morals, values, and ethics are one of the most important characteristics of a person. These features define who we are and what we believe in. Many different factors come in to play when determining a person`s morals, values, and ethics; childhood upbringing, later life experiences, family, friends, culture, religious beliefs, race, discussions with others, and many others that have an affect a person’s beliefs (Head, 2006). There are times when a person`s beliefs do not agree with someone else’s, which does not mean that one of these people is wrong, it means that we, as individuals, do not all think the same.
As a whole, most people have a good sense of right and wrong, which is to say that for the most part most people have good morals, values, and ethics. My personal code of ethics started from my birth and continues on through the past four and a half decades. The major contributors to my code of ethics are my parents, grandparents, sisters, friends, teachers and later life experiences. My parents taught me right from wrong, while my grandparents reinforced their rules.
My sisters, although they tried to steer me into mischief sometimes, never tried to teach me bad behaviors. My friends were strong contributors during the teenage years, although we did find our own mischief, it was never against our morals, values, or ethics. I believe we were regular teenagers doing normal things to keep busy (nobody ever ended up in jail because of our doings). My teachers, from grammar school through high school have all been positive influences in my life, trying to point me in the right direction and giving me strong, sound advice.
My later life experiences taught me some hard lessons; to trust what I can see, not always what I hear, there are evil people in this world that only want to hurt people both mentally and physically, to depend on myself because when it comes down to it, I am really all I have (besides my children, family, and friends), and to pick myself up after being knocked down and be a stronger person because of all I have been through. These people have all helped to shape me into the person I am today, which is a strong willed person with a strong set of ethical beliefs.
Although some of the later life lessons were the hardest I have ever been through, they have made me a stronger person and given me a higher set of morals, values, and ethics. I also took a good hard look at the criminal justice system during those times and tribulations, and I came to the conclusion that it works when it wants to, but not always. It worked when the investigator and I were running through the courthouse at 4:30 p. m. o find a judge to sign a lifetime order of protection and restraining order, which was given immediately. But it did not work for my cousin and aunt who were murdered when an ex-boyfriend broke in and stabbed them, completely disregarding the order of protection, which he is now serving two life sentences for. Every individual is different and believes in their own values that were taught to the as they were growing up and sometimes something might happen to them that changes everything, in their mind.
Realizing this gives me a better understanding of how and why a person thinks, but I think if everyone has a good foundation to start with, the results can be better for everyone. My personal code of ethics started as I was growing up, my parents were my foundation, they taught me to be honest, to trust them, to respect them and others, to treat others how I would want to be treated, to except people as they are, and to be the best person I can be. My parents taught me to value what I have and hold everything near and dear to my heart.
We are a very close knit family with strong family values. As a single mother of three, I will do everything in my power to protect my children. I have instilled honesty, integrity, pride, and apparently hard working in my children. They are all strong willed individuals with very good hearts. I will be honest, listen to what is said, respond to every question, and help my friends and family to the best of my ability. I will be a friend and help when I am able. I will not judge people; I will treat everyone fairly and equally.
I will not be prejudice towards anyone because of any differences they may have, be it cultural, gender, beliefs, religion, social status, or opinions. I will never intentionally harm anyone, or steal from anyone, I will never set out to do wrong by anyone, I will always believe in the good in people without compromising myself and my values, and I will try to remain unbiased towards everyone I come in contact with. I will be open minded to others suggestions, realizing everyone has their own opinion, and offer help when a situation arises that requires assistance.
I will never formulate an opinion of others based on other people’s perceptions, I will take the time to get to know people and then formulate my own opinion. I will hold myself accountable for the mistakes I have made and do my best to amend them. During this course I was to consider a criminal justice career that interested me, I choose a Correctional Officer. My personal code of ethics compares to the professional code of ethics of a Correctional Officer in several similar ways.
First off is to respect and protect the civil and legal rights of all individuals, to me this would be treating people right and trying to make sure they understand the difference between right and wrong. I also treat every situation with concern for the wellbeing of all, maintain relationships with colleges to promote respect and improve quality in the product we produce, I also do not allow personal interest to impair my judgment when completing my job. I do not discriminate against anyone because of race, gender, creed, national origin, age, or disability and have taught my children the same.
I preserve the integrity of personal information, if someone comes to me with confidential information, they know without a doubt it will not be disclosed to anyone. I also respect, promote, and contribute to a work place that is safe, healthy, and free of harassment of any form (American Correctional Association Code of Ethics, 2008). My personal code of ethics does not differ from the professional code of ethics of a correctional officer, except that my personal code is not based on professional duties only, it is based on the realities of life in every aspect.
The correctional officers unwritten code states that the acceptance of the use of force, the preference toward redefining job roles to meet only minimum requirements, and the willingness to use deceit to cover up wrongdoing are evident in their subculture (Thomson/Wadsworth, Ch 12, p 320, 2005), I do not agree with this behavior in any way. I do agree with going to the aid of any individual and not using or bringing drugs to anyone.
As to the “don`t rat” unwritten code, “never rat out an officer to an inmate, and never cooperate in an investigation or, worse yet, testify against a fellow officer in regard to that officer’s treatment of inmates” (Thomson/Wadsworth, Ch 12, p 320, 2005), my personal code of ethics does not agree with this statement. I believe that honesty is the best policy, “don`t rat” is a cover up that will make others lose trust in a person. Never making a person look bad in front of others; I agree with this, there is a place and a time to discipline a fellow coworker and in front of others is not the time.
I always try to support a fellow coworker, but when the coworker is in the wrong, I do not agree with this unwritten code. I do agree to showing positive concern for fellow coworkers, this norm promotes goodwill toward other officers. Two examples are, never leave another officer a problem, which means don’t leave unfinished business at the end of your shift for the next officer to handle; and help your fellow officers with problems outside the institution, meaning lending money to injured or sick officers or helping out in other ways.
This unwritten code is used at my current place of employment and I have used it continually throughout my life. I do what I can for others and I always finish my tasks at work and clean up for the next shift. If I worked in the field of correctional officer, I would hold myself to all the ethical codes associated with this career. I would not hold myself to all of the unwritten codes of this profession, I do not believe in covering up, I would hold myself up to the standards to be a role model to the inmates.
I would treat all inmates fairly with no favoritism, I would not be quick to use force, but I would not be afraid to use force if it is deemed necessary. I would treat the inmates in a professional manner and give them the respect they deserve as human beings (Thomson/Wadsworth, Ch 12, p325, 2005). I would treat the inmates the way anyone would want to be treated; if the inmate abuses me then that inmate deserves different treatment, but through the formal channels, not informal (Thomson/Wadsworth, Ch 12, p325, 2005).
I would be consistent, fair, and flexible in my duties. I would have a strong moral and ethical code to help me with the job as a correctional officer. The ethical dilemmas that my personal code of ethics helps me resolve include helping me to make the right choices in life, pointing me in the right direction and standing up for what I believe in. They provide me with the ability to think before I respond to questions and directions. I consider the consequence of my actions before I perform the act and do what is best for everyone, not just what is best for me.
I resolve the issues by getting the facts before I comment on a subject, “some moral issues create controversies simply because we do not bother to check the facts” according to Velasquez, Andre, Shanks, and Meyer (1996). In addition to getting the facts, resolving an ethical issue also requires an appeal to values (Velasquez, Andre, Shanks, and Meyer, 1996). This all helps me to resolve dilemmas in my life, personally and professionally. I do my best to provide a good example to all that come in contact with me.
I believe my personal code of ethics leans towards the teleological system, I believe “the end justifies the means” (Thomson/Wadsworth, Ch 2, p29, 2005). Under this system, the Utilitarianism system also follows what I believe; what is good is determined by the consequences of the action (Thomson/Wadsworth, Ch 2, p 32, 2005). I believe a morally right action is one that produces a good outcome, or consequence (Wikipedia, 2010). This form of utilitarianism holds that what matters is the aggregate happiness; the happiness of everyone and not the happiness of any particular person (Wikipedia, 2010).
This is the framework of my personal code of ethics, I have always been a people person and seem to put others happiness before my own. My ex-husband always told me I have a “disease to please” which means that I go overboard trying to make everyone happy, no matter the cost to myself. But this seemingly harmless passion to always be “nice,” to put others first and to compulsively please them even at the expense of your own health and happiness rapidly spirals into a serious psychological syndrome with far-reaching physical and emotional consequences (Braiker, 2002).
I have improved my “disease to please” problem and now do what is best for everyone, including myself. My personal code of ethics matches the ethical standards for the career I am interested in; Healthcare Administrations. According to the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) (2010), Individuals shall hold paramount the welfare of persons for whom care is provided. Individuals shall maintain high standards of professional competence. Individuals shall strive, in all matters relating to their professional functions, to maintain a professional posture that places paramount the interests of the facility and its residents.
Individuals shall honor their responsibilities to the public, their profession, and their relationships with colleagues and members of related professions, (ACHCA, 2010). My personal code includes the required codes of ethics for Health Care Administrators; to be honest, show respect, show pride in myself and my work, be open minded, listen and respond with well thought out answers, treat others as I want to be treated, and not be judgmental towards anyone. As a single parent, my life has been about caring for my children. Now that they are grown, I intend to put my efforts in the health care field and help those in need.
My personal code of ethics will help me to achieve my goals and be the best person I can be. References American College of Health Care, (2010). Code of Ethics, Retrieved from http://www. achca. org/joomla/index. php/membership/code-of-ethics American Correctional Association Code of Ethics, (2008) Retrieved from http://www. aca. org/pastpresentfuture/ethics. asp Braiker, Harriet, (2002), The Disease To Please, Retrieved from http://www. diseasetoplease. com/DiseasetoPlease. htm Head, George, (2006). Where Our Ethics Come From, Retrieved from http://www. irmi. com/expert/articles/2006/head03. spx Thomson/Wadsworth, (2005). Ethics in Crime and Justice, Chapter 2, Determining Moral Behavior. Axia College Material Thomson/Wadsworth, (2005). Ethics in Crime and Justice, Chapter 12. Ethics for Correctional Officers, Axia College Material Vasquez, M. , Andre, C. , Shanks, T. , Meyer, M. , (1996). Santa Clara University, Thinking Ethically: A Framework for Moral Decision Making, Retrieved from http://www. scu. edu/ethics/practicing/decision/thinking. html Wikipedia, (2010). Consequentialism, Retrieved from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Consequentialism#Utilitarianism