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Should schools "profile" all students to identify those who may become violent?
Yes: No:

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See Saw - Feedback From Our Parents

The discussion is:
While straightening your teenager's room, a book falls on the floor. You pick it up and see that it is her diary. As a parent, do you have the right to read it? Would it matter if you found the diary outside her room? Is it okay to read the diary if you suspect there is problem your teen is not telling you about?

  • No, you don't have a right to read anything that was not given directly to you! If you have a question about what's going on with your child, it's your responsibility to open the channels of communication in different ways. I'm not foolishly suggesting that that will always be easy, but as a daughter whose mother did think it was her right to infringe on my private thoughts and feelings, I can honestly say that her actions broke a trust that I had had in her and our relationship, and after that, the option of open communication was not even a remote interest for me! So, maybe I'm talking about two different issues. Do you have true concerns that something dangerous is happening and not have any other way possible for finding out? Maybe not only is it your right, but it may be your responsibility to do whatever you have to do to ensure your child's safety and well-being. But otherwise, do you want to build a worthwhile relationship with your child, built on trust and mutual respect that will last forever? Be careful about the message you send. Are you concerned? Are you feeling left out? Are you just plane curious? Remember there's a reason that she wrote in her diary and didn't discuss some of these things with you. Teenagers have a lot to deal with! But you are leading by example, and in no other environment would it be okay for your child to pick up and read someone else's private thoughts.

  • After learning that my 14 year old was anorexic, I would give anything if I had ignored my original thought that children need privacy. I would go back and read everything she ever wrote so that I could have caught her depression and eating disorder earlier.

  • No, you should not read it. You should respect your daughter's privacy and trust her to be honest with you. My mother read my diary when I was a teenager, I never trusted her again after that. Now I have a daughter, age 4, and I will never read her diary, it's her privacy I would be invading and everyone needs their privacy. I would just pray that I raise her to be responsible and smart enough and have the courage to know what is right and wrong, and hope that we develop an open and honest relationship where she feels she can tell me anything. There are other ways to find out what your teen is into than to invade her privacy.

  • In my opinion, I feel that children should have a right to express their thoughts and feelings, whether it be to a best friend or written in a diary, that is something's sacred to the child and to take that freedom of expression away might hurt your relationship with your child. Your child may never want to reach out and talk with some one they feel they cant trust, because curiosity killed the cat...besides there may be something written that the parent isn't ready to face....the parent needs to put their self in there child's shoes, how would you have felt if your parents did that to you. Just to pick up the diary and read it because you suspect their is a problem or to be just plain nosy is not fair at all to the child. If you suspect that there is a problem, you should try opening up the communication lines by discussing the issue first, with an open mind. (You might not like the answer you hear, so be prepared to handle ANY situation.) The wrong reaction could cause your child to go further inward. I do believe if you try to have an open conversation and do not get a positive response and still have a feeling your child may be in danger, then I hesitantly say yes.

  • I think you should read it. It may help you to communicate with your teen knowing what he or she is writing in the diary. He or she may be dealing with issues alone or with another teen that they really should be asking you as a parent. Overall I think that if a child feels they need to write personal stuff in a diary that it may also be a silent cry for help and maybe deep inside they may want you to find it. Anyway if a secret is that big they need to tell the parent.

  • I feel that it is wrong to read your child's diary, no matter what the circumstances are. Many teens keep diaries so that they have 'someone' to talk to, confide in and vent their frustrations without causing any problems with friends and family. If you feel your child is in trouble, don't invade their privacy, that will only make them more distant... talk with them.

  • I believe if you are concerned with your child and are having difficulty in communication, then I would read the diary to see if they is something in there lives which you should be concerned about.

  • I would not read it. As a child I was forced to deal with weekly, if not daily searches of my purse, letters or what ever my parents decided to look at. I felt as if I was not trusted. So I feel that it is a violation of that child. If there are concerns to be address, speak with the child.

  • They need some privacy toooooo Trust is the key word I wonder how understanding some parents would be if their child read their diary! Would they appreciate that? That's the example parents would be setting for your children. Be nosey at all costs...even the trust of your children. Sometimes this happens and it's something that can't be forgotten. I've seen that happen with friends and it's a Pandora's box that you don't want to open. Trust your children and trust what you've taught them. If they make errors - let them learn from them. You're never done teaching your kids - but your kids can be done listening to you.

  • There are very few circumstances that would warrant the "snooping" and invasion of a child's privacy. I agree that if your child was having problems and there was no other way to get information I might do it, but I definitely wouldn't make it a habit. Kids have problems. Kids make mistakes. That's how they learn. Do you want them to learn that they can't trust anyone? Even Mom and Dad? That's bogus. It's none of your business. Be a parent, not a private investigator. Be there for your child. Show your child that you care about him or her and trust their thoughts and opinions. All you can do is teach your children what is right and wrong. You can't make them do what you want and you can't live their lives. I find it hard to believe that an earlier post said "...keep discreet tabs on the content of his backpack and to occasionally check his desk drawers. I also check hiPrivate - concerning things deeply private and personal. I wonder how much you people would be understanding if your child read your diary. Would you appreciate that? That's the example you're seeting for your children. Be nosey at all costs...even the trust of your children. Sometimes this happens and it's something that can't be forgotten. I've seen that happen with friends and it's a Pandora's box that you don't want to open. Trust your children and trust what you've taught them. If they make errors - let them learn from them. You're never done teaching your kids - but your kids can be done listening to your lies.

  • There are very few circumstances that would warrant the "snooping" and invasion of privacy. I agree that if the child were having problems and there were no other way to get information I might do it, but I definitely wouldn't make it a habit. Kids have problems. Kids make mistakes. That's how they learn. Do you want them to learn that they can't trust anyone? Even Mom and Dad? That's bogus. It's none of your business. Be a parent, not a private investigator. Be there for your child. Show your child that you care about he/she and trust thier thoughts and opinions. All you can do is teach your children what is right and wrong. You can't make them do what you want and you can't live thier lives. I find it hard to believe that an earlier post said "...keep discreet tabs on the content of his backpack and to occasionally check his desk drawers. I also check his e-mail. I respect his privacy..." Really? If that's the kind of respect you have for his/her privacy then it's no wonder you're snooping. You probably think you've been a good parent too.

  • I'm shocked to read some of these responses from parents who feel they have the right to invade their children's privacy. Children deserve RESPECT just as adults do, and I would feel Extremely Violated if someone had the audacity to invade my personal thoughts and feelings. I can't imagine anyone thinking this is even remotely acceptable.

  • s e-mail. I respect his privacy..." Really? If that's the kind of respect you have for his/her privacy then it's no wonder you're snooping.

  • I'm shocked to read some of these responses from parents who feel they have the right to invade their children's privacy. Children deserve RESPECT just as adults do, and I would feel extremely violated if someone had the audacity to invade my personal thoughts and feelings. I can't imagine anyone thinking this is even remotely acceptable.

  • Simply pick up the book and place it back where you found it, without invading his/her privacy. Everyone needs his/her own spot (usually their room) that is his/her domain, barring any illegal, immoral, or crazed acts are being performed,instigated, or investigated, of course. Turn the tables: your child decides to straighten your room as a surprise for hardworking mom/dad and your diary falls on the floor. Should he/she read it? How would you feel if he/she did?

  • Read it!!! My father found and read my diary when I was just starting college...he discovered things I would NEVER have told him. He gently told with me what he had read and discussed my behavior with me in a manner that allowed me to maintain my dignity. I was so impressed with the way he handled the situation that I took a good look at the direction my life was heading...and headed in the opposite direction. Today, I don't hesitate to check my children's backpacks or peek into their diaries. I found letters written to my 13 year old son by a girl classmate that were frankly obscene. I spoke with him about them and let him decide whether he would talk to the girl or I would. He chose to talk to her, and I think it helped her. When my children become adults and I have done my best to raise them, I will absolutely respect their privacy. Until then, I will do my utmost to protect them.

  • In light of the situation in Colorado I feel if it's in your home you have the right to view anything, including the diary. Privacy is merely a perception. If you are unaware of the exact problems your child is facing how can you ever give the right advice. Just because you read the diary doesn't mean your child has to know you read it. Use the information to help you become a better parent, not a nosy one.

  • I think it's ok to look for what may be my only view into my child's activities away from home or how she may be feeling. If I read that she was thinking about having sex, and we had not had the TALK, or it had been awhile, I would bring it up again and buy condoms & get her on birth control if all else fails. I look at this the same way as driving by where my teen said she would be to see if she's really there.Wouldn't it be more awful to find out you can't trust your kid AFTER something horrible happens? I would never mention what's in the diary or that I saw it, but I would use the information to help my child-whether it's asking more questions & trying to get her to confide in me, being more observant for other clues, or seeking professional help. That's my parental responsibility - to seek whatever info I can and use it to help her. We and the media are so critical of the parents of the Colorado boys who killed their schoolmates-and I think it's justified. How would you feel if your kid was one of the victims, and discovered that the terrorists' parents felt it was a privacy issue and did not intervene when they discovered bomb-making or massacre plans? Think also about how parents are held responsible and many times financially liable for their child's actions such as drunk driving, vandalism, personal injury, etc. Wouldn't you like a clue that your child needed help - ANY way you could get one? It may not be the most trustworthy thing to do, but I don't think it's wrong whether the diary is found in her room or not. If it were my friend's diary - YES it's wrong, but my child's - NO - I am responsible for her until she's an adult!

  • YES!!! If the child is a troubled teenager or adolescent I would read it to hopefully find some answers on what's wrong. If the child is a good kid and not much problems than no. It's depends on the situation. If it deems necessary or not.

  • I have a 12-year-old son who has always been secretive. He has in the past given me reason to be concerned about his ability to make good judgements and to stand up under peer pressure. My most effective recourse, I believe, is to keep discreet tabs on the content of his backpack and to occasionally check his desk drawers. I also check his e-mail. I respect his privacy, and his need to have a space that is his own, but I would never forgive myself if something were to happen to him because I didn't know what was going on in his life. Just because you are parent, doesn't give you the right to betray the very same trust you are teaching to your children. That's hypocritical.

  • There are many ways to come to your child and address situations that you may be concerned about. However, I will say that if my child started to act in a way that was very out of character or obviously leading her down the wrong pathway AND that conversations with her were not successful...I might consider it. But only after much thought and even prayer. Her life is my responsibility--so is maintaining her trust in me. I can't be a parent if I am not a good role model by my actions.

  • I would not read it, but if I had concerns, I would mention to my teenager that I had had the opportunity to look at it but did not and ask her/him if we might talk about the issues that were bothering me.

  • Regardless of where the dairy is, one should not read it just because you found it. However, if I thought my child was in trouble or holding something back because they are behaving or eating differently(mother's instincts), I would definitely read it. I want my child to know that I will be there for them, especially after all the school incidents.

  • Yes!! it's okay--you must protect your child. At this age they are still children. However, you must be careful how you handle the information you find. If children are acting out inappropriately you must help them get control of themselves, or they will get hurt and their behavior may get more out of control. Being a teenager today is tougher than ever--the temptations are enormous- children are confused-even if you teach good morals at home-they are exposed to so much-even in schools - especially the high schools. Don't be afraid to look--just be prepared for what you might find. It's not easy being a parent today either.

  • I have found my daughter's diary while picking up her bed and I did not look into it. Why you ask? Simple, my father once found my diary and read it. I felt so violated when my private thoughts were read that I promised myself I would never do that to my child.

  • I don't think it is right to read your child's diary - children should be allowed a certain amount of privacy. If you suspect that there may be a problem, you should make them feel comfortable enough to ask you for help (which comes from building trust - NOT invading privacy), and you shouldn't have to resort to snooping around in your child's personal and private things. If we really are wonderful parents (as we would like to think) we should know most of our daughter's secrets since she would have talked to us about her feelings and problems. For what concerns her innermost thoughts about her first love, why interfere? Respecting our kids' boundaries and privacy will teach them to do the same. If we suspect that our teens have a problem they are not ready to talk about, it would be better trying to get them to communicate with us rather than going behind their backs and read their diaries.

  • I have four children, three girls and a boy. My oldest is 11 and she as two diaries. I have not read them. She's has never given me a reason to distrust her. She is very open with me. We always work out her problems together, in her time. I do allow her to make mistakes. But as long as she has my trust I will never be nosy. She has even ask my input on personal suggestions for her diary. I am very proud her, she is a great person.At 11 years old she is more mature than most 16 years old.

  • As a child, did you ever go into your parent's room (without permission) and snoop around? Was that an "invasion of their privacy"? Did you find anything you weren't supposed to? Did you learn from it? DID YOU TELL THEM? Get with it people. You have every right to read your child's diary whether it's found in the laundry or their bedroom. There is nothing wrong with knowing what your child is thinking, the changes that they are experiencing, or perhaps any troubling matters they don't feel they can approach one of their parents with. Be lucky you found it. Invasion of privacy? I don't think so; it could save their life.

  • If you expect your child to grow up with a reasonable respect for the privacy of others, then give you should not read it any more than she should listen in to your telephone conversations on an extension.

  • You would have to be crazy not to sneak a peek! I will do everything possible to make sure my kids are safe, healthy and happy. If she is struggling in an area that I can help her with, I want to be able to help or at the very least let her know it is perfectly normal to go through ups and downs. I would never use it against her, and I wouldn't necessarily tell her what I saw, but it could be a great way to really know what is going on in your kid's life.

  • Yes, A parent absolutely has their parental duty to give a peek at the diary. I frequently make it my business to "clean up" all my teenagers bedrooms, and I peek into every little nook and cranny.

  • My curiosity has enabled my husband and I to address numerous issues that could be potentially harmful to our children. We believe that we need to respect their privacy, but only to a certain point. After all, they are still children I firmly believe I don't have the right to read the diary. If you expect a child to respect your privacy then it is necessary to lead by example. Would I read the diary? Yes, but would not let absolutely anyone know.

  • Parents should not read their child's diary because their son or daughter would feel insulted. For example, if the child finds out that the parents read their diary, they would never trust their parents again. People write in diaries to discuss their own feelings and they are intended only for the author, not the rest of the world. I feel that if a child learned that their parents were snooping, the child would develop entirely new feelings towards their parents. Yes. As a parent, I have the right to read her diary. I need to know what's going on in her life because teenager's always fell they are right and what ever the parent says is wrong. I would want to make sure that she's not drinking or taking drugs or even having sex at this age. It's a parents duty to find out if the child is having problems so they can get their teen the help they need.

  • My mom read my diary when I was a teenager and I was angry at her for doing so. However, I am now a mother myself and feel that if I suspected something was wrong, I would definitely read my teenagers diary. I once heard Carroll O'Conner (who played Archie Bunker and lost a son to drug overdose) say, "Do anything, I mean anything, to get between drugs and your children."

  • As long as your child is living at home with you, yes, you may read her diary entries. You are there to protect your child not only from outside influences but also from herself. If it means going through their belongings than so be it. When they move out and establish lives of their own, that is when you give up certain rights as parents, including reading their diaries.

  • Yes, a parent has the right, but hopefully that parent also has the respect for the daughter and would leave it alone. The exception being if you suspect a problem and can't get a response from talking to her. Be sure you want to know what's in there.

  • Absolutely not! As much as you would like to read your child's diary and find out what she is and isn't doing, her thoughts on things are her own thoughts. This is her private diary. You should be able to talk to her about things and ask her questions, not snoop into her private diary. Do you want to teach your child to not trust you?

  • In theory I feel you do not have the right to read her diary. She is entitled to her own privacy. However, perhaps if she seemed to be having a few problems, or she seemed quite out of sorts, maybe then if you read it, it may help to know how to help her. It could help a problem getting completely out of hand. Also, if she didn't know how to approach you about something, she may have left the diary somewhere to be found, knowing that you would read it, and help perhaps.

  • This is a tough one! On the one hand I feel that we as parents need to be on the look out for our children experimenting with drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. On the other hand will we be teaching our children that they do not deserve the same privacy that we ask of them? When and If I am in this situation with my daughter, I think I would approach her as a friend and let her know that experimenting with drugs is very leathal and if she ever needs to ask me or my husband any questions about them she can always come to us. Hopefully we have raised her to trust us and not to be afraid of asking us any questions.

  • If I were to find my daughters diary I would never read it. She has the right to her feelings without worring about me finding out about them. I would give her her privacy. My mom always gave me my privacy and I am willing to give my daughter the same.

  • I don't invade my children's privacy at all but if there is a problem like my dughter runs away I will look in a diary or notebook to try and find phone numbers or links to where she may be hiding out. If I suspected drugs or alcohol or some other problem I would first try to talk to her and then I would tell her I was suspicious and that I will be watching her, but I don't think I would invade her privacy because privacy is sacred to teens and I would rather have her trust in that kind of situation, rather than know something that was written and not have her trust in dealing with the problem.

  • no, the diary is like a friend,the child can do, write anything in it. Sometimes a child can't say anything to a parent. espcailly if it's a dad.

  • No it is not okay to read her personal diary. However, if she exhibits odd behavior and is reluctant to discuss her problems with you, out of concern it is okay to peek and see if anything serious is going on.

  • Absolutely not!!! Put yourself in his or her shoes. A child has a right to some sort of privacy and needs to be respected as you exprect him/her to respect you. A friendship between parent and child is the most important ever - after all in the end you will always be friends and betraying the trust may put your child in more trouble in the furture if they do not have you to turn to.

  • Don't ever do that. You will destroy the trust your child has in you. Talk to your kid. You could talk to your kid's friends, but don't you read a diary.

  • I am in the camp that says "my mother invaded my privacy as a teenager, so I know firsthand that it is NOT the way to go." However, I also fiercely love my son and would do ANYTHING to save him if I thought he was troubled in some way, so I can't be too critical of parents who invade their children's privacy. The solution? Give your child a diary that LOCKS and say "here, you should know that I both love you and respect your privacy. I'm giving you this lockable diary so you can hide the key and maintain your privacy. Please know that if you leave it unlocked, I might read it even though I shouldn't. So keep it locked. And I know you are smart enough to understand if anything you write about in it is really serious. If you can't talk to me or your dad, find a teacher or other adult you feel safe with and TALK. I'll even help you find that person if necessary."

  • As we have wittnessed in the columbine tragedy, it's important or rather essential to be in our cildren's business. We have to know who what when and where.

  • You have no right to read his or her diary. If you read it and your child finds out what you did, you have basically lost her trust forever. If she doesnt trust you and she has a problem, she will not tell you. You have a better chance of finding out if someting is wrong by talking to her.

  • I am shocked at all these responses i am a 16 year old women and i would never read my mums diary as much as she would not read mine if as a parent you are concerned over a matter concerning your child you should gently bring it up in conversation. Just imagen as a teen you got home from school and your mum had been reading all your inner thoughts, if my mum did that i would never write anything else down ever again or talk to them because i would feel as though they would over react but mainly i just would not trust them. I think it is awful that parents feels they need to look inside a diary to find out what there child is going thought it obvislouy means that there isnt a very good parent child relationship. So as a parent DO NOT look thought your childs diary, just trust them to come to you, unless you want a full scale war on your hands!!! Think about your teenager as almost another adult because that is how we like to be treated because we nearly are adults so dont undermind us!

  • Do you really want to know whats in there? I wouldnt want to know. If there is a major problem she/he has gone to someone by now, if not u, a friend. She/he will know you read it when you bring something up that was in there. if you are the type of parent that yells at your kids when you find out they did something wrong, then she/he will never tell you anything. if you want to know whats in there start being a friend to her/him, be rational with your responces, and they will tell you everything you want to know about them.

  • No, you should never read your child's diary. You may be the parent in the situation, but it does not mean that you are given the right to read her diary. If you were to read it, it may make you both uncomfortable around each other if you were to uncover an issue that the child wished to deal with personally. As a teenager, i felt very close to my mother and would express close to all of my feelings and thoughts to her, but my dairy was a personal object that i wished to have only to myself. If my mother, or even a close friend was to read it, i would feel very betrayed. For your daughter, it would be best to leave her 'private' imformation to stay that way. If you were concerened about her, you should directly ask her, or if it was that important, she would have shared it with you. Please respect her privacy and do not read in to her life.

  • it never ok to read a diary of a young girl. you should never because in there they may put their goals, hopes,dreams,crushes,and deepest thoughts.

  • As a parent I have the right but I would not read it unless I thought she was in trouble and couldn't find any other way to confirm my suspisions.

  • No, it is not "okay" under any circumstances. If you start violating their privacy, they will start actively trying to hide everything about their personal lives from your snooping eyes, stop talking to you openly about what's going on in their lives... you'll just be pushing them further away from you. Is it worth destroying the trust between you for a few minor scraps of information (a crush on a boy in class and some bad poetry about their emotions is probably all you'll find)? True, the vast majority of kids do experiment with things like cigarettes and alcohol at some point in their late teens. You probably did yourself. And then you grew up into a healthy, non-drug-using adult. If they don't experiment with that kind of thing during high school, they will during college, where you won't be around to keep an eye on them and where there might be far worse drugs available. So keep an eye on them now, but at least give them the privacy of not snooping through their thoughts and dreams. Make sure they know the long-term and short-term consequences of drugs. Make sure that they know that you would rather they come to you for help than hide a problem from you for fear of getting in trouble. And then remind yourself that they have a right to keep some of their thoughts and feelings private from you. Yes, it's a temptation to peek, but the fact that they still let you clean their room means that they trust you not to. Don't screw that up. In the long-term, that trust will help you to protect them far more than whatever is written in their diary.

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