Abstract

The goal of the study reported in this article was to explore the conceptualizations of human rights and human rights practice among students and supervisors in social work field settings. Data were collected from 35 students and 48 supervisors through an online survey system that featured two open-ended questions regarding human rights issues in their agency and human rights practice tasks. Responses suggest that participants encountered human rights issues related to poverty, discrimination, participation/self-determination/autonomy, violence, dignity/respect, privacy, and freedom/liberty. They saw human rights practice as encompassing advocacy, service provision, assessment, awareness of threats to clients’ rights, and the nature of the worker–client relationship. These results have implications for the social work profession, which has an opportunity to focus more intently on change efforts that support clients’ rights. The study points to the possibilities of expanding the scope of the human rights competency within social work education and addressing the key human rights issues in field education.

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