Is Community Service a Social Responsibility or a Social Consequence?
Community service means that someone works as a volunteer to support a cause. This may range from menial tasks like cleaning streets or being as big as hosting a fundraiser for the less fortunate. Volunteering for the community is one of the greatest services anyone can render to the society he or she belongs to. However, a lot of institutions and states include doling out hours of community service as a form of punishment for rule violators. This may somewhat dampen the entire concept of community service or may cause a divide in the entire cause of the activity. This leads to people questioning the entire cause and essence of community service. Is community service a form of social responsibility where people volunteer to give back to the community? Or is it a social consequence, a punishment brought by deviating and violating social policies and norms?
There are a lot of varying opinions with regards to whether community service is a social responsibility, a social consequence, or a punishment. Some view giving community service to those who violated the rules as a minor consequence is alright. However, there are also those who view community service to be something that should not be taken as a punishment. These people consider community service as something that should promote a positive stance and not be viewed as the contrary.
On one side, there is community service as a social gathering and social responsibility. On the other hand, there is community service as an accepted form of punishment, a consequence of violating social norms. These two opposing views both have merits and demerits that are worth exploring.
As a social responsibility, community service can be viewed as something that people can and must do to give back to the community. Those who support this view see community service considering the positive effects it can do to the community and to those who volunteer and engage in the act. These people see that since it is an event where people do work for the public or community voluntarily, handing it out as a punishment defeats the purpose of volunteerism.
Take for example the case of students who do voluntary work every summer cleaning parks, building houses for the homeless, taking part in tutoring groups, volunteer in environmental campaigns, and other community-related activities. These students are giving back to the community in a manner that they not only benefit from it but help others make their lives better. This helps impart a sense of social responsibility as well as social awareness to these students. This may also be a way for students to develop the skills they will need in the future, build a connection with the other members of the community as well as improve the overall quality of their lives and of others. In this sense, the student benefits from volunteering in whatever activity there is that directly benefits the community at the same time being able to help the community reap their own benefits as well.
The same scenario can also be applied to industries and the working force within the community. Companies can do job campaigns, for example, to allow those who wish to join the company a chance to be employed. This way, companies can cater to a lot of people. There are also some companies who offer feeding programs to indigent people within the community or offer scholarships to promising students. The company finds an opportunity of building awareness of their existence as well as being able to share their services towards the people. This manner of treating community service as a social event and not as a negative consequence promotes a positive vibe towards the entire concept.
Now, although there is a close similarity between methods and activities doled out, those who believe that community service can be a form of punishment or consequence imparts a different message. For instance, a judge or an institution who doles out community service as a punishment for a misconduct done by a delinquent or a student may give a less favorable impression towards the idea of community service. To the point of view of the affected party, the punishment may seem as too lenient or may view community service as a waste of time. To the student or delinquent, serving hours cleaning the park or being an errand boy in the police station or serving extra hours after school for the night class may be enough punishment to learn a lesson. However, this may leave the student a sour disposition towards the entire activity. This may give a negative connotation to the entire concept of community service. At the same time this may provide caution to future violators that no matter how insignificant they think the violation may be, they will still not be left unpunished.
In a way, handing community service to someone who violated the policies of the institution or the community may be given a chance to penance for his or her misgivings in a way that can also benefit the community. If viewed in this way, then it is like killing two birds with one stone. The violator gets punished and the community reaps the benefits of this punishment. It is a win-win situation. However, this does not remove the reality that because of this some people may view community service in a bit of a negative light.
The verdict now on whether community service is a social community or a social consequence lies entirely on how people perceive its effects. If viewed in relation to its positive effects, community service is a social responsibility. However, if viewed in relation to its use because of a misdeed, then, community service is a social consequence.
In the end, community service is a way for people to keep in touch and engage in activities that will help them build a relationship with the other members of the community. The nature of this relationship perhaps depends entirely on the nature of the engagement. Ultimately, the decision is left to be situational and consequential. Depending on the circumstances, a student may see community service as a way for him or her to better himself or herself while offering help to the other members of the community where he or she may belong. It is a way for him or her to secure a better prospect and a better direction for his or her future career and in life. If the same student engages in something that is a ground for misconduct and gets punished with hours of community service, then his or her view of the entire activity may shift.