posted on Jun, 1 2009 @ 06:24 PM
I'm one of those parents that took my own privacy very seriously, especially as a child and teen. I very much value my own privacy now. I tried to
raise my daughter to be trustworthy enough to deserve the same kind of privacy of her own. I guess you could say that I've always been a pretty
liberal kind of parent. Rather than shelter my daughter I prefer to be a safety-net to catch her when she falls. Over the years I've given my
daughter a lot of liberties and expected more of her because of it. Being a responsible parent we talk a lot about everything and because she has been
taught to be conscientiously responsible I respect her opinions and her desire to live her life the way she feels is best for herself, using my
vetoing powers only when it is something most dire.
However, a year ago my 11 year old brought it to my attention that some stranger, a 40 year old guy in Hawaii, had been txt messaging her and sending
her pictures!!! I had to explain to my daughter why it is dangerous to talk to strangers and if ever someone she doesn't know txts her she needs to
tell her mommy or daddy immediately. I immediately called the guy and read him the Riot-Act. Turns out the guy was a Police Officer, no less, and
started threatening me with several felony charges. When I told him that I would track down his real-life identity and sent copies of all his
correspondences with my 11 year old daughter to his local law-enforcement employer, significant-other, and local media making sure that he was charged
as a pedophile and registered as a known sex-offender ruining his life, losing his job, significant-other, and making sure he could never approach
another child again, his attitude changed and the whole story came to light.
Turns out, my daughter initiated contact with him accidentally by typing a wrong number for the area code. A two-way conversation via texting started
up and looking at the text messages she sent, it would appear that he genuinely never had any idea that she was 11, but rather thought it was an adult
female flirting with him. He even asked her if she had a boy-friend, and my daughter told him "Yes, and even though he tells me he loves me, he hits
me all the time" (which has totally different connotations when you consider her age). He falsely assumed that she was in an abusive relationship and
I, the father, was her abusive boy-friend (reinforced all the more when I called him up to read him the Riot Act).
Thankfully, no bad came of it and both she and the Police Officer from Hawaii learned some very valuable lessons about being more cautious when txting
strangers on their cellphones.
No service can take the place of good parenting. I will continue to talk to my daughter and make her feel safe enough to approach me and openly
disclose what goes on in her life, but at the same time casually remind her that I do have the ability to review everything she does on her phone and
online and that she better act accordingly lest she give me a reason to review them. To me, that trust is a very important issue on both sides of the
How far should one go in protecting their child? How does one draw a line between a child's safety while respecting their right to privacy? It's a
fine line that has arguments both ways.
This is a service I would get, but I would hope that I would never have to use it.