Should I Monitor my Son or Daughters Online Activity?

By: Wendy McLellan

This has become an increasingly sensitive question with parents. Some parents believe that they should not infringe on their child's privacy under any circumstance, some parents believe that they can infringe on their child's privacy at any time, and other parents are somewhere in between. Finding the balance of what a parent should do is often times very tricky. In my experience, if you believe that your child is going to harm themselves or another person, or if your child has been harmed by someone, then the answer is very simply, yes.

Let's explore what I mean by a child harming themselves. This means that your child is in POTENTIAL Danger of becoming hurt, harmed or killed. Some of the things that would fall into this category, but not limited to, is: drug use and abuse, thoughts of committing suicide, gang related activity, unprotected sex with multiple partners, running away from home, prostitution, drunk driving, increased depression, poor/lack of attendance at school, having possession of a firearm or weapon, cutting behavior and the list could go on. All of these behaviors should be addressed promptly either with family counseling, individual counseling or group counseling. In the event that your child has made threats to commit suicide, this requires Immediate Treatment. No threat should be considered an idle threat. Girls are more likely to attempt suicide and boys are more likely to complete suicide, due to the ways they attempt suicide. Girls are more likely to attempt to overdose on drugs and boys are more likely to use firearms or hanging.

Let's explore what I mean by a child harming another person. If your child has been making threats that they are going to hurt, bully, fight, terrorize, frighten, stalk or harm someone, then counseling would be advised. Anger management counseling would be most appropriate. Again, if your child threatens they have homicidal thoughts and would like to kill someone or has fantasies of killing someone, then Immediate Treatment is required.

Finally, if your child has been harmed by someone. This would include your child being the victim of bullying, cyber bullying, molestation, rape, mental or physical torture, stalking etc. Counseling for all types of victimization is necessary. The need to rebuild self esteem in victims is important. Identifying feelings, processing past trauma and coping with the past and present are critical factors in this counseling process.

In recent years, all of these events are on the rise. We are seeing more violence, and completed suicides then ever before. Children usually tell others what they are thinking. They may tell a friend over the phone, at school or on the computer. They may write it down in a journal or a diary. Finding these pieces of information are important in being able to prevent further loss and damage.

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