Do Teens have a right to privacy?

Johnny - posted on 02/08/2012 ( 26 moms have responded )

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I've noticed that people seem to have widely ranging views on whether a teen or a pre-teen should have some privacy within their own space and the right to privacy to explore their own interests (sexual or otherwise). It is a difficult thing as parents to deal with our children growing up and becoming sexual beings. But I am wondering what limits you feel there should be on their privacy and their access to information in these areas. Do you want them to remain "pure" until they leave your household? Or do you accept that they may wish to explore their own sexuality as it develops during puberty?



Obviously this is a question that must clearly have some boundaries to it. Teens are still minors, not yet totally responsible for themselves, and require rules that govern their safety. I'm not really asking if they have the right to come and go as they please or not inform their parents of their whereabouts and such. And clearly they don't have the right to take part in anything illegal. I am more speaking of things that are legal and that cause no harm.

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Sylvia - posted on 02/09/2012

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Yes, absolutely teens deserve privacy. Everyone does.



Am I dying to know just what exactly my 9-year-old writes in her private journal? You betcha. Would I read it? Heck no. Just because she's 9, that doesn't mean her right to privacy doesn't count.



Same goes for teens, IMO. Teenagers had sex when we were young. They had sex when our parents and grandparents were young. Teens have been having sex for millions of years -- they're not going to stop being sexual creatures because over the past few generations we've decided they're too young. What we *can* do is make sure they have good information and a healthy attitude, so they don't make bad decisions and end up in bad situations.



I'm grateful to my mom for giving me space, privacy, and sensible advice and trusting me to make good choices. I hope I'm able to do the same for my daughter.

Kimberly - posted on 02/08/2012

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I hope that by the time my daughter is a teen that we have taught the right values and behaviour that we can give her some privacy. I by no means will ever kid myself that even if we have the closest relationship in the world I will probally never know everything and I'm fine with that. I'm not fine with being lied to and used so yes there will be boundries and punishments for breaking rules. I will hope that I will answer all her questions honestly and correctly, I am by no means going to encourage her to be invloved in some things but I will explain them. I'm not going to read her journal or search her phone if I feel there is not a very good reason. Kids can have some privacy yes but at the end of the day I am there mother and my job is to look after them so if that means breaking there privacy to protect them then I will otherwise I will respect it like I do anyone elses

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Yes, I think all people have a right to intellectual and physical privacy regardless of their age, however, that privacy must be within certain parameters for younger ones.



My son is 7, I do not go into his room without knocking if he is in there, even if the door is open. While in his room, he is allowed to do anything he wishes because there is nothing he can do within his room that would be "against our rules". I do go in to put clothes away sometimes when he is not home, but I do not snoop, and I do not clean his room for him--he is 7!

He is NOT allowed the same privacy when other children are over because there are things that 2 kids can do that would violate our rules, so the door stays open, but I still knock, and I still don't snoop.

That would be an example of those parameters.



There is not much we can do about intellectual privacy--if they are not going to tell us, they are not going to tell us.



I do not think stripping them of privacy is a good discipline tactic for violation of trust...I know how tempting it is....but how can your child learn to be trustworthy if you never give them a chance to be trusted? Furthermore, trust earns trust, if you do not trust your child, you child will have no reason to trust you. Sure, you may be trustworthy, but your child also feels he or she is trustworthy, so when a parent blatantly distrusts their child, the child learns that you cannot trust even the trustworthy i.e the parent. Ken Rotenberg wrote a good deal about this.

Johnny - posted on 02/10/2012

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Probably because people have a hard time adjusting to the idea of their children becoming sexual beings. A really really really hard time. It seems to cause something close to a form of psychosis in our modern culture. I will say though, I know better intellectually, but that doesn't make it easy to accept. I'm planning on having my child stay 3 forever ;-)

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Sabrina - posted on 06/06/2013

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Yes I do think teens should have their privacy and if they're in their room all day they obviously want their privacy so it's best not to snoop around at all because your daughter or son may be upset if you found out what they do, write, or think. I know this because I'm 12 and when my mom looks through my stuff I'm more than upset, just thought I'd put that out there. :)

Sal - posted on 09/24/2012

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Yes but they must know that privacy is a privalegde that has responsibly attached to it...I have a 16 going on 17 old son and I don't want to pry into his room too much but it does need to be clean, he knows if it isn't I will do it ( the house is for sale) so his privacy is up to him... The same with sex, he has a gf ( she is almost 18 so all legal) I assume they have some hanky panky going on and I have told him the sexual health he needs to know but I don't feel I need to know any more than that... He also knows I am on his Facebook and I have the password, I don't use it except in emergencies ( I had to go to hospital in an emergency and his phone was dead so I logged in as him and got his gf to find him for me she's now my FB friend and I have her no. So not an issue any more)

Sal - posted on 09/24/2012

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Yes but they must know that privacy is a privalegde that has responsibly attached to it...I have a 16 going on 17 old son and I don't want to pry into his room too much but it does need to be clean, he knows if it isn't I will do it ( the house is for sale) so his privacy is up to him... The same with sex, he has a gf ( she is almost 18 so all legal) I assume they have some hanky panky going on and I have told him the sexual health he needs to know but I don't feel I need to know any more than that... He also knows I am on his Facebook and I have the password, I don't use it except in emergencies ( I had to go to hospital in an emergency and his phone was dead so I logged in as him and got his gf to find him for me she's now my FB friend and I have her no. So not an issue any more)

Jane - posted on 09/23/2012

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I have a 13 year old son and he has his own room, laptop, Xbox, TV etc. and, more importantly a door he can close whenever he wants to. I believe that all teens should have their own space and privacy. Mind you, I have parental controls set on his laptop (so there are sites he can't get on without my say so) and he can't add anyone to his 'friends' on the Xbox online without me authorising them. He's fine with that as he knows he has a problem with telling 'real' friends from school from false ones (he has Aspergers Syndrome) and it was easy to set up via MSN. He is also restricted on the amount of time he can be on the Xbox using the same controls. It works very well.



I was always given my own space and privacy from age 11 and I believe that was right for my mum to do so. I also knew I could talk to her about anything and my son is the same with me. It makes a big difference when no subject at all is off limits.

Sanchero - posted on 09/21/2012

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Yes, children/teens should be taught and allow privacy progressively according to their age. As soon as children start asking questions parents should respond always with the truth. I loved and respected my father for his brutal honesty about the truth of Santa Clause and the 3 Kings. It hurt b/c we were not going to receive gifts as the neighborhood children did w/the exception that other family members would give us toys claiming that above characters left them at their house for us. I in turn as a parent looked for opportunities to celebrate & give gifts to my children w/o exposing them to above lies.. In regards to sexuality, children should be educated with the facts, the proper name(s) of their genitalia and purpose of their parts w/progressing info according to their age. The public library is a great place to start teaching them how to research / look /read about things that they are interested in..for Knowledge is power.

Kelina - posted on 02/10/2012

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My kids are still little but I'm hoping I'll be able to stick to my principles on this. My kids have my trust until they lose it. I won't snoop in their rooms unless I'm given due cause. And I refuse to clean their rooms past a certain age. If they want to live in a pigsty, fine as long as they keep their door closed. If I can see it, chances are it's going to wind up in the garbage, toys and garbage alike. My mom used to clean my room and it drove me nuts because 1-my room wasn't messy. There was nothing on the floor but furniture and my stuff was not that cluttered. And two because when she cleaned my room things went "missing". She'd sell them, or she'd move them and I'd never find them again. I started hiding things so she wouldn't lose them when she decided to sneak into my room and clean it and then ended up losing them anyways cause I couldn't remember where I'd hid them lol. Moving every couple years didn't help either. I found out after I moved out she'd installed spyware on my computer(no wonder the darn thing never ran right after I went away to camp) and yet I have no idea what I did to make her not trust me as the only things she might have had reason for, I was adept enough at hiding that she never found out to the day she died. I think snooping on our kids just gives them more reasons to sneak around and helps them learn to sneak better. However, I don't believe in computers or tvs in their rooms, so most of what they do on those things will be public anyways.

Jenni - posted on 02/10/2012

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Privacy within reason. The teenage years is the transitional years between child and adult. I feel a very important part of that growth and development is being allowed to start making their own choices and mistakes. I would prefer to build a relationship with my kids built on trust and openness where they feel comfortable talking to me about major decisions in their lives. Coming to me for guidance, rather than hiding important details of their lives for fear of embarrassment, punishment, judgement.



Freedom and privacy should be gradual, however. Rules adjusted based on their age and maturity. I don't think I'll be the type to snoop in their room. I believe it's important that during this transitional age they have their teenage sanctuary. A place that is theirs within our home. A place to retreat and have their own privacy. I'd much rather them have that place within our home rather than having to go somewhere else to find it. Snooping or invading their privacy would undermine their trust in me. It would deter them from coming to me and being open and honest. I think denying children/teens (age appropriate) privacy would make them want to hide and keep things from their parents even more to compensate for lack of personal space.



Within their room, they can do what they please short of illegal/dangerous activities. If it's not against the law. Have at it. I'll be a knocker and and speak through the door-type.

Caitlin - posted on 02/10/2012

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Everyone has a right to their privacy. For me that means that when my teen is in their room, I wont just barge in, I will knock and wait for permission to enter. My teen will NOT have a TV or computer in their room, I dont think it's necessary and encourages the teen to spend more time in their room alone than with the family. As for going in when my child is not there? Sure, I will go in to pick up dirty clothes and stack slean ones on the desk or do a basic tidying up. I will NOT snoop through their things unless their behaviour give me suspicion that they are doing something illegal, in which case, their room is fair game. I wont read journals or diaries (in fact, i'll try to encourage them to not write anything overly personal in nature in them like sexual encounters or anything because my sister got kicked out at 16 because my mom read hers.. and they were VERY detailed).



They are still learning to take care of things at that point, so they need a bit of guidance, but that doesn't preclude the right to privacy.

Tina - posted on 02/10/2012

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I don't think a teen should have computer in the bedroom it should be somewhere a parent can supervise. I do think teens need privacy. I was made to shower with my sister as a teen. Very uncomfortable especially when she's stick her hand out catching water off of me or saying Tina you have big boobies. Embarrasing. Everyone is entitled to privacy time to be alone in the bedroom or shower. I wouldn't be allowing internet access on a mobile either. For the simple reason there are too many creaps that prey on children and teens and we need to protect them.

Sherri - posted on 02/09/2012

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I believe as long as they have done nothing wrong, are obeying the rules etc. then yes they deserve the privacy in their own rooms.



They are more then welcome to masturbate, play video games, watch TV, read in their rooms. I do not go through there things, however, they do know if I feel there is a reason too I won't hesitate.



They are not allowed to have sex in my home no matter how old they are.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 02/09/2012

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I definitely feel a preteen and teen deserve their space as long as there are no indications something serious or dangerous is going on behind the scenes.



If my 13 year old daughter is her normal self and everything seems to be good for her, I don't ask very many questions (prying ones anyhow, I always ask the regular, how are you ones) and she has the rec room down stairs to herself. I do come and go as I please, it is still my house and my freezer and storage room are down there. I also will come and go from her bedroom as I please but I don't do it often, I have seen that place...ewwww However, I never go through her stuff, unless I am sick and tired of her messy room (IMO it is, others say it is not bad...shrug) and it is time for me to clear it out. Even then though, I don't read anything or snoop, if I come across something and happen to get a glimpse before biffing it (because it was crumbled on her floor), I may read it, all depends on my mood, more times than not though I don't bother.



I respect her privacy and trust she will always come to me when she is having difficulties or I will go to her if I see a change in behaviour like mood swings or things of that nature. I am a fairly confident parent that I have guided her in the right direction and trust her fully. She is only 13 though, so there are rules to everything but for the most she is free to express herself in a healthy, positive manner. She has to be able to have her space and learn some things on her own or how will she ever get to know herself, personalize her feelings and be able to figure out how to do things on her own.



However if she has disobeyed she loses her privacy privilege, to some aspect, I still don't snoop but she doesn't get to be in the rec room, she has to sit up in the living room with us... Heaven forbid (in her mind!)LOL

Denikka - posted on 02/09/2012

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I had zero privacy during my childhood. And I mean ZERO. Any papers I didn't scrupulously hide were found and snooped through. My grandmother (who I lived with from age 6 on) did my laundry and cleaned my room daily. I didn't even have a door, only a curtain (money problems, house was under construction for a VERY long time, couldn't afford a door).

From the age of 6 until just before I turned 19, when I moved out, I never had any kind of privacy. It sucked.



So yes, I absolutely believe that kids deserve their privacy. I believe in real world lessons, and so I believe that, until my child breaks my *law*, they deserve the same basic rights that I do. Food, drink, enjoyment of things and activities as long as they don't hurt themselves or someone else, and privacy. Once that *law* is broken though, whether mine or the governments, they have forfeited all those rights and are stripped to basic survival (food/water, weather appropriate clothing, shelter)



My kids are still young though, I don't know if I'll feel the same way 10 years from now. But I do think that kids have some basic right to privacy and trust. I wouldn't want my kids to go snooping through my stuff, and I've taught them that from day one. There's a big difference between putting clothes away and happening to come across something, and deliberately going looking through things.

Unless my kids do something to make me believe they are involved in something dangerous (expectations will be made clear to them, along with the consequences, such as loss of privacy), I see no reason to snoop.

Stifler's - posted on 02/09/2012

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I think teens have a right to privacy. They're human beings. The only reason I go through my kids stuff now is because they're 2 and 8 months and i have to dress them and sort out their clothes. When they start having diaries and what have you I don't want to know. I just hope I come off as someone they can talk to rather than the crazy prying parents mine were.

Sally - posted on 02/09/2012

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I believe that you should respect your teens space . The only time that it should change is if the teen is doing something dangerous or illegal.

Jane - posted on 02/08/2012

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1) My concerns are safety, emotional maturity, and learning what is and is not acceptable in our society. No one can see into another's head so automatically we all have some degree of intellectual privacy. However, with immaturity comes poor judgment, and parents need to have some degree of knowledge of what their child is up to in order to keep them safe.



And you asked if teens had a "right" to privacy - no, privacy is a privilege that needs to be earned.



2) Porn tends to encourage watching, not sharing with another. Also, once something is deemed porn there is no distinction between images of normal sex and those that are less typical, including bondage, bestiality, rape and other things. In addition, in the absence of another actual person participating, porn can be taken to be not requiring permission. While real people do engage in such activities, both people are agreeing to engage in them and that is not always clear in porn. And finally, teens think enough about sex as it is. They don't need additional fuel for the fire, nor do they need to be introduced to something that some people find to be addictive.

Lacye - posted on 02/08/2012

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Ah! Gotcha! Yes I do think teens should have their own privacy and personal space. They are their own individuals. You can't control how a teen feels or thinks. A parent wouldn't want their child to burst into their personal space so why shouldn't parents give their kids the same respect.

Johnny - posted on 02/08/2012

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Pornography presents a skewed version of reality? Could you explain that a bit more? Is that all pornography? Do you not believe that real people engage in the behaviors shown in those films?

Johnny - posted on 02/08/2012

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I tried to clarify in my original post, but I must have missed the mark. I am not referring to teens being allowed to have sex with others, to leave the house and go where they want, or to go to parties etc. etc. I am simply referring to "intellectual privacy" or the privacy of their personal space.



I will also ask, does this relate to morality for you? Is it about purity or chastity? Or do your concerns come from issues about safety and emotional maturity?

Jane - posted on 02/08/2012

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Teens don't have a "right" to privacy. They do, however, have the privilege of privacy depending on their behavior. As long as they are behaving in a trustworthy manner and complying with reasonable requests and expectations they should have privacy in their bedroom and the bathroom. Parents should not be banned from entering the bedroom, but they should be admitted after they have knocked and asked to enter.



As to exploring their own sexuality, ie. masturbating, that is fine as long as they understand that this is a private occupation and needn't be shared with the household. Most boys will somehow get their hands on a few copies of Playboy or other similar magazine, but full-on pornography should not be allowed as it presents a skewed version of reality, one that dehumanizes other people.



As a child shows they are trustworthy then they should be granted trust.

Lacye - posted on 02/08/2012

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I think it would depend on the child. Some teens can be responsible and understand what consequences come with sex and there are some who are total twits who need to keep their pants on.



Now in my own opinion, a pre-teen has no reason to be going out and having sex. When my daughter gets that age, we will have the talk and I will be happy to answer any questions that she might have. But my child is not going to be dating until she is 16 or she can show me that she can act in a responsible way and can be mature about the whole situation. I might be looked at as a mean mother but rather be a mean mother than one who doesn't care.

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