General Question

squirbel's avatar

Do children have a right to privacy?

Asked by squirbel (4292points) March 1st, 2008 from iPhone

The context is in the sphere of the home, not public. PARENTS vs. CHILDREN. Not Child vs. School, Child vs. Government Authority, etc.

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14 Answers

ishotthesheriff's avatar

everyone has a right to privacy. but, obviously, a child’s privacy should be limited (somewhat) by the parents. there has to be a good balance for everything in life

squirbel's avatar

So let’s discuss what constitutes privacy! :D

srmorgan's avatar

On a day to day basis, yes. Looking at it from a “macro” point of view, NO.

One of my kids began to write stories when he was 6, and he fiercely guarded his privacy. It was off-limits to Mom and Dad and rightly so.

Now he is 17 and fiercely independent, or so he thinks. But since he entered high school we have tried to know exactly what was going on in his life: where he was going, with whom, when he would come back. We speak to his teachers every six weeks or so and the parents of his friends every so often without his knowledge.

Of course, what we know is probably 50% right and 50% wrong. I am no fool and I was 17 once, but the issue is that we have an obligation to know what he is doing and that he has no right to privacy about where he is going and what he is doing when he is out of the house.

On the other hand, the kid still writes stories and the last thing I would do is trash his room looking for his writings. That’s wrong and not a good parenting move.


squirbel's avatar

Thanks for your parental point of view smorgan :)

PupnTaco's avatar

As a parent, I’ll say “within reason.”

Give ‘em enough rope to hang themselves with, and if they do… pull them back in.

deepseas72's avatar

Your first responsibility as a parent is to care for a child. Do what has to be done to protect them from drugs, underage sex,sickness, predators. Teach them right from wrong, and inforce it. Everyone deserves a certain amount of privacy. As a parent, you need to realize that their diary is private, they have every right to private conversations, their room is their own sanctuary… UNTIL you have reason to feel they may be abusing this privacy and doing wrong or be in harms way. Privacy is a right until it is abused, at which point it becomes a privilege.

mcw's avatar

I agree with squirbel and taco.

It depends on the kid. Some can be trusted and some can’t. Once you figure out if they are honest with you or not, then you, the parent, will decide on how much privacy they will or will not have.

Btw, I don’t think its unnormal for kids to be secretive and to need their lives checked into. I spent a good portion of my highschool days grounded because of my parents’ “involvement.”

And I detested them then, but now I respect them and I am thankful they were concerned about my well being. I thought I was invincible; they knew better. They knew given the opportunity I would do things I shouldnt do.

I’m glad now that they didn’t turn a blind eye.

mikeyC's avatar

all above are great answers !!! Now when I was a kid I had privacy like in my room for sure but if smoke started coming out the door then no. I needed to have that safe place to count on. If I were to start acting up then they would remove the door from my room . I think that happend once, but they put it back after like a few days.

gooch's avatar

The short answer is no. The long answer is in certain areas. Obviously they need privacy during puberty as they “begin to develop”. Then they should be give more privacy as they earn it. You should always stay involved in the life of your children and know what going on. My girls confide in my wife like a friend.

hearkat's avatar

My son has been told from a very young age that “Mommy” is my job title, not my name; and that until he is over 18 AND fully independent financially, he has no right to privacy. HOWEVER… that doesn’t mean that I don’t give him his space. It simply means that he doesn’t have any expectations. He is almost 17 now.

For example, I have his AIM set up to log his chats, and I’ve learned many things by going in there periodically… But I did not punish him for anything I read, I just used the information to open a dialog between us about the topics that concerned me. I haven’t gone in there in over a year, because now he just talks to me about everything outright.

Once he realized that I’ll find out what he’s up to anyway, and that I don’t get angry about it, he saw no point in trying to be devious. I knew, from being a teenager myself, that trying to restrict or control him would only backfire. I wanted him to understand that although I worry about him and want him to make the right decisions, that I still respect that they are HIS decisions to make, and I won’t judge him for them. So he has more trust and respect for me, because I trust and respect him.

When he does mess up, I express my disappointment by telling him so – again, without anger or judgement. Sometimes I’ll just say “I’m disappointed”; other times, I’ll joke “I know your mother taught you better than that”. He knows that my love is unconditional, but that doesn’t mean that he has free reign to be a nincompoop.

I see that too many of his friends’ parents have been too restrictive or over-indulgent, and he sees it too. He tells me what some of his peers do and it astonishes me. For example, he knows a kid that will hock a loogey and just spit it on his own bedroom floor. Eeeew. That’s a boy who was never taught to respect others OR himself. And that’s a mild example suitable for this public forum…

As Gooch says… privacy and other rights have to be earned, the child has to show that they are up to a certain level of responsibility before being given too much freedom. As a parent, we have to let go gradually over the course of the years, to allow the child to grow through each phase and to develop self-confidence to take them into the next stage.

squirbel's avatar

I like the way you do things, hearkat. When I start having kids, I’ll learn from your example!

hearkat's avatar

@Squirbel – thanks for the compliment (and nice avatar ;) )

It’s not easy… but then again, the right path usually isn’t the easiest one. There are times you hate sitting through another soccer/basketball/karate/piano/dance function, but you do it anyway because it is so important to be actively involved in their lives.

There was a period of time when I was lackadaisical and self-absorbed, but he started acting out, and I knew it was up to me to take the initiative. Kids NEVER learn by the “do as I say, not as I do” model. By forcing myself to become a better role model and to actually live by the values and principles I was trying to instill in him, I have helped myself overcome my own self-esteem issues way more than years of therapy and various medications did.

The way I see it, the kid didn’t ask to be born, so the least I can do is sacrifice 18 years of my life to put my best effort into teaching him to be a discerning decision maker and independent, hard-working individual. Then hopefully, he won’t still be living under my roof at 25 and I’ll be able to do what I want then! :D

spendy's avatar

@hearkat, I love the words you’ve used. There’s actually nothing I could write to add to this thread that would make any more sense than what you’ve already said.

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