Elizabethan Poor Laws and the Unworthy Poor Essay

1399 WordsDec 20, 20116 Pages
Elizabethan Poor Laws and the Unworthy Poor Tara McFadden Indiana University School of Social Work Abstract Beginning in the Elizabethan Era, unworthy poor was a label placed on able bodied people that appeared to choose to not work. They were often treated harshly and in extreme cases, put to death (Shelly, 2011). In today’s society such treatment would be unheard of. The act of even labeling this group of people or other groups is discouraged and even against the NASW’s The Code of Ethics (2008). When faced with the multi billion dollar price tag of welfare, we need to make a distinction of who is worthy or unworthy to receive government assistance. The question arises on how this can be done without impeding the rights of the…show more content…
The main sources for this reflection paper have been; classroom lectures and skit, The Code of Ethics (National Association of Social Workers, 2008), and the section of the Encyclopedia of Social Work on Social Policy History. The classroom experience that stood out for me was the privilege of being included in an audience participation skit presented by Professors Vernon and Glassburn Larimer It was based an actual town meeting in the Elizabethan period and included in it was how they dealt with their unworthy poor (2011). In addition to these educational experiences, I have my own personal experience of living off of the government for over two years along with my two children. Hindsight now leads me to label myself unworthy poor since I was able bodied, yet unwilling to work. Examine The audience participation skit allowed the class to have a unique learning experience on how a town dealt with managing its citizens including the unworthy poor. It appeared the town leaders kept the problems and solutions simple, if a person didn’t work and was able to, the person was punished. (R. Vernon, S. Glassburn Larimer, classroom skit, September 3, 2011). Curiosity leads me to question if the town officials took into account any other issues that may have interfered with a citizen’s desire to work such as various mental health concerns; depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. When I printed off The Code of Ethics (National Association of Social
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