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February 1st, 2011
06:38 AM ET

Sound off: Should parents spy on their kids?

New York State Senator Eric Adams has a message for parents: "There are no First Amendment rights (of free speech) inside your household."

That's what the 20-year veteran of the NYPD said in a video he posted on YouTube, explaining to parents the various ways they should be checking up on their kids. Some call it good parenting, while others call it spying.

In the video, the senator checks pillows, behind pictures, inside jewelry boxes and a doll's clothes inside his home, only to find hidden handguns, bullets, a crack pipe and a bag of what appears to be marijuana. His message is that evidence of trouble could be anywhere, and that it is parents' duty to check on their children and search their rooms, even if they object.

Alex Koroknay-Palicz, executive director of the National Youth Rights Association, says this could be dangerous and undermine parent-child trust. Sen. Adams is defending the video, saying we need to do more to stop illegal gun violence. Read more about the story here.

We talked about it this morning on "American Morning" but we want to hear from you. Do you think it's OK to spy on your kids?


Filed under: Parenting
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. derrick

    Its not spying its parenting

    February 3, 2011 at 8:08 am |
  2. Scott

    Is this question for real? We have companies monitoring people's e-mails and yet you are asking whether or not, parents, who have complete responsibility for their children, and who can be held legally liable for any bad acts their children commit, should know what is going on with their children?

    Gee, I don't know, next will you ask if parents should make sure their children have a healthy diet, get excersize and study?

    February 2, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  3. Sarah

    I think it's spying to a certain point. I'm a kid and I'm turning 12 in a few weeks. I think it qualifies as spying if you look through a kids room in an extended search like that guy did. A couple years ago I came up to my room and my mom was READING MY DIARY and I asked her what she was doing after screaming to drop it thats private. My mom was like oh i was just looking for a notebook for your brother to do his math in. yeah right mom. anyway, this counts as spying. I think that if you have reason to suspect that your kids have anything to do with drugs or weapons, search their room with them there. Some people would argue that it is technically the parents property and they have a right to search it, but some of the things in that room might be given to them by a different relative and not theirs to look through, and some items may be bought with kids own money.

    February 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
  4. Justin

    No, I feel that this isn't right. There are other ways to go about doing this other than "spying". It is called good parenting.

    Good communication with your kids is better or more ideal for both of you. It not only strengthens the relationship you have but it respects them and their opinions.

    So yes give them privacy. That doesn't mean you can't knock on their door when you want to talk. Clearly there are limits on their behavior based on your values and principles. But, it shouldn't be necessary to be so intrusive. I find it ironic really that so many people hate an intrusive government but are able to be so intrusive themselves.

    February 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  5. Amber

    i do not see it as spying on your children you are supposed to protect them and teach them right from wrong. How can we protect our own children and the lives of others possibly if we are not looking at these things. Lets face it our children are not always honest with us and going to tell us everything. its how we deal with what we find in a reasonable manner so you don't destroy your relationships.

    February 1, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  6. Carl

    First it is not spying when checking up on your kids. It is our responsiblity as parents to ensure that our kids are safe and following rules. I also believe that there needs to be open line of communication and trust built between you and them. If you are feeding, clothing, housing your children then they must abide by your rules. You can look without being overly intrusive. For parents to say trust the good ones, search the bad ones reality needs to set in. How many times do we watch on tv a parent saying if only I..... I never thought my kid would..... They were a good kid.

    February 1, 2011 at 9:00 am |
  7. Tawna

    I honestly don't believe that it is spying, when it is in your own home. Parents need to be aware of what there children are into and the type of friends that they have; it may not always be your child that might be the problem, but their friends that you invite into your home, whom may bring something into your home, or even ask your child to hold and / or hide something for them. I believe, if you take this small step of staying on top of what your children are doing and looking around "YOUR" home, it may save you and your family a lifetime of hurt.
    In today's age, kids are sometimes faced with situations that, we as adults don't always understand; so, the more we are aware of the possiblities that threaten our children, we can protect our families from the fall out of those possiblities.

    February 1, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  8. Laura

    I think it depends on the child. We reminded our kids that it is our home and we can look anywhere we want to. If they wanted privacy they needed to earn our trust. As long as they honored our relationship (honesty/helping out at home/ letting us know what they are doing & who they are with) then we didn't need to investigate. If they were not going to work with the rules then we reserved the right to enter their room at any time. It wasn't easy, we did keep them safe and we knew what was coming into our home....

    February 1, 2011 at 8:34 am |
  9. BJ

    I am a mother of 12, who has been through the wringer with every problem known to humankind with my elder children. The underlying problem was a difference in parenting styles and the fact that I tried to be a good wife and deferred to their dad.

    Short and sweet: laissez faire parenting DOES NOT WORK. Instead, develop respect and trust between yourself and the kids by TALKING ABOUT EVERYTHING from dugs to sex to violence...and be human enough to interject your OWN experiences when possible. My younger kids, now youth, are perfect examples. Smart kids are just as prone to experiment as dumb kids. Direct your talk to the rational part of your teen's brain: acknowledge, ask questions, and most of all, let them know that BECAUSE YOU LOVE THEM, you maintain ALL of your parental rights to do random checks of their rooms, their bookbags, their facebook and their texting. If I pay the phone bills, I can ask to see their phones at any time (rarely do I do that, but I CAN). I keep copies of their contacts (again, just for emergency). I keep a cadre of fullspectrum drug tests, pregnancy tests, condoms and other emergency supplies for them.

    I think the experience of their older siblings screwing up and our marriage crashing because of the clashing parenting paradigms also had impacts.

    Now, when they go out on a potentially 'escalatable' date, I simply remind them to check the weather (backstory: one never knows if things might get wet and stormy, so they must remember to take/wear their galoshes, aka rubbers). They generally laugh at the now cheesy inside joke, but they know I respect them and want them to be safe. They are also expected to check in with periodic updates when they go out (txting a phone # and location is fine) and they do.

    Apparently I am the go-to mom for my kids and their friends when they need info. That is great. And how great is it that my teenagers invite me to hang with them -and their friends?! Growing up is tough. Success takes focus and hard work...in a career and in parenting!

    February 1, 2011 at 8:33 am |
  10. Chris

    I'd rather be a fatherless child if I had a father as controlling as state senator Adams appears to be!

    February 1, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  11. T.A.

    Parents should spy on their kids within reason. Effort should be taken to grow the trust in the relationship, but the parent has the ultimate responsibility for their child so they should have the right to spy/watch/monitor their children's behavior. The parent is held accountable for the child's action so how can the parents do that without monitoring their kids. For the people that say trust! What happens when kids lie, because at some point kids will test the boundaries with a lie (or worse).

    February 1, 2011 at 8:26 am |
  12. Jeremy

    You cannot be serious. "Undermine the trust dynamic between parents and children” If more parents would stop trying to befriend their children, and take their role as sole bearer of responsibility for the proper upbringing of a respectful and productive human being in our society…. We wouldn’t be having this debate in the first place.

    Children are using drugs; selling drugs for distributors and gangs, which give the youth of our nation more of a feeling of belonging than the houses (homes) in which they are raised. That is sad fact.

    The fact is; children have no “Constitutional” protections from their parents… the U.S. Constitution provides the guidelines for protection of U.S. citizens against intrusions from U.S. Government.

    Stop whining people and raise your children responsibly. Stop worrying about what your kids think of you and embrace the fact that parenting is not a popularity contest, but the greatest honor and responsibility bestowed upon a human. Give it your all and do what you have to do to keep your children, their peers, the public, and yourself safe.

    February 1, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  13. San Ban

    It isn't "spying" when you check up on your kids. "Spying" would suggest you don't have the right to know if your kids are taking drugs or keeping a weapon. Not only is that a parent's right, it's her responsibility!
    Of course parents should talk to their kids about these things, but they should also be aware that a kid who's doing something she knows is against her parents' rules will lie to cover it. It's a parent's job to protect her children and I'm sure it's better to tackle any such problems before it gets to the level of the criminal justice systtem.

    February 1, 2011 at 8:23 am |
  14. T. Russ

    Simply said, it is impossible for me to spy on my children when they are living in MY house. I can not intrude in an area I already own. I have articulated to my two children that they are only visiting until they depart for college.

    February 1, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  15. Crystal

    YES, parents should most certainly "spy" on their children! It is absurd that it would be considered a breech of trust. If a child has nothing to hide then there is no problem. I am a parent of 3, they live in my home, eat my food, I clothe and care for them, and I LOVE them greatly, as long as they are under 18 and in my home, their privacy belongs to me. It is time for parents to be parents!

    February 1, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  16. Bonnie

    When my daughter was a child I cleaned her room regularly and there was no question about her privacy. My parents would have had a big chuckle about the absurdity of your question.

    February 1, 2011 at 8:20 am |
  17. Patrick Regis

    There are some children who this is actually necessary for, but majority don't need to be searched. Let the good kids continue to be good, because you're only showing them you have no trust. For someone to look through my stuff like they're digging for trash is one thing, but to see the parents do it? Well, that's a new low nobody saw coming.

    February 1, 2011 at 8:20 am |
  18. Milt

    It's distasteful, but required. The point is to get the kids grown and out into society without them ending up dead, in jail, or an unwed parent. What worries me is that we are training our kids to be tolerant of an intrusive Big Borther" goverment. There's a big difference between a parent spying under their own roof, and a government spying on its citizens.

    February 1, 2011 at 8:18 am |