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Racialization, Discrimination and the Law, Literature Review Example

Pages: 3

Words: 893

Literature Review

Issues concerning abuse of power often stem from social problems such as those related to racism, discrimination and illegal opportunistic activities. Some people in positions of power use their authority to commit various unethical or illegal acts against those in subordinate relationships with them. This creates undesirable social interactions based on specific behaviors of those in power, and also collective behaviors of their colleagues due to the social culture of the institutions for which they work or belong. Stated another way, people in power have opportunities to affect conditions and force their ways of doing things on the people around them. Many times, a person in power’s way of doing things is negative, malicious, unethical, illegal, or otherwise abusive in nature. In addition, this is made worse by those people who work under them to look the other way when they see abuse, either because they agree with the abuser’s methods or they choose to silently condone the methods out of fear of retribution if they spoke or stood up to the abuser.

Abuse of power is often committed either by bad-intentioned individuals or by those who are blind to what they are doing because they feel like they are helping people by imposing harshness on them by way of authority. This literature review examines three articles related to power abuse, in order to point out the realities of this social issue and the reasons behind why employees in the workplace choose to use authority as a license to hurt others.

Case Studies

Article 1: In ‘Isn’t that what “those kids” need?’ Urban schools and the master narrative of the ‘tough, urban principal, the authors give an account about their scheduled visits to an urban high school in Oakland, California for the purpose of evaluating the school’s policies and practices concerning education and discipline in the school. It is important to note this school’s population consists of almost all minority students. It is noted that the student body is “a nearly 100% student-of-color population (Zirkel, Bailey and Bathey).
The highlights of this article point out the tyrannical and narcissistic methods by which the principal runs the school. His strong abuse of his power and authority is evidenced by his loud tirades, cursing rants, discriminatory insults, sexually abusive comments, cruel and unusual punishments, physical abuse, and other hostile treatment against the students in the school. This principal believes in “shaming” kids and scaring them into submission for offenses such as forgetting their homework, forgetting their lunch or other normal events that happen in schools. To make things worse, the people on his staff are the same way. It is noted that the school is “successful,” despite these disturbing events (Zirkel, Bailey and Bathey).

Article 2: In A Description of Sexual Offending Committed by Canadian Teachers, the authors examine the profile of professional child sexual abusers, particular teachers. The article points out how people in positions of authority impact children. Often abusers in positions of authority use that to impose a position of trust on their young victims. They gain the trust of the children before they sexually abuse them by being nice to them and often being nurturing and encouraging to the children, and thereby having significant influence over them.

Study hypotheses report that many child sexual abusers get into positions of authority over children with the intent of abusing them. A recent study of Canadian teachers who are child sexual offenders reports “professional perpetrators tended to show love and attention to potential victims, gradually desensitized victims to sexualized behavior, and then used subtle forms of coercion (not violence) to ensure that victims did not disclose the abuse (Moulden, Firestone and Kingston). A clear abuse of power.

Article 3: The author of Lawyers Behaving Badly: Understanding Unprofessional Conduct in e-Discovery speaks to the issue of legal incompetence due to many attorneys’ ignorance about new technologies. This is a case of possible unintentional abuses of power. The author gives an example of an attorney who was unaware that his client sent him altered emails concerning evidence during a trial, which resulted in a mistrial.

This type of unethical behavior can be intentional or due to negligence; however, it still results in the same negative consequences, and that is someone is hurt by someone in a position of power. The motive for this is often money by unscrupulous or uncaring lawyers. The article states this type of behavior is unacceptable, as it turns upholding the law into a mere business (Losey).

Conclusion

The common denominator in the three articles as it relates to abuse of power seems to stem from opportunity. The people in positions of power in these three cases acted out of self-serving initiatives to satisfy their own desires. Solutions to this problem can include putting measures in place to ensure people do not condone unethical, illegal or otherwise bad behavior of authority figures by participating with it or by their silence. Additionally, adequate training in areas of concern needs to happen as well.

Works Cited

Losey, R. C. Lawyers Behaving Badly: Understanding Unprofessional Conduct in e-Discovery. 6 February 2013. Mercer. Web. 9 Feburary 2013.

Moulden, H. M., et al. “A Description of Sexual Offending Committed by Canadian Teachers.” Journal of Child Sexual Abuse 28 July 2010.

Zirkel, S., et al. “‘Isn’t that what “those kids” need?’ Urban schools and the master narrative of the ‘touch urban principal’.” Race Ethnicity and Education MArch 2011: 137-158.

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