A controversial new program in West Virginia called “Hidden in Plain Sight” promises to teach parents how to “snoop” on their kids to ensure that they aren’t doing anything illegal or inappropriate. The program, which was sponsored by the Marion County Communities of Shalom and funded by the West Virginia Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities, shows parents how to search through a mock teenager’s bedroom for signs of improper behavior, including “substance abuse, violence, self-harm, sexting, eating disorders, and juvenile crime.”
Unsurprisingly, the program has proven controversial with some concerned that spying violates children’s privacy and erodes the trust between parent and child. Those in charge of “Hidden in Plain Sight” say that it was not created to punish children, but rather to protect them and start a dialogue between parents and kids.
“We want to teach parents to snoop on their children so that they can open a dialogue,” Ginger Haring, a digital forensic analyst with the West Virginia State Police, told WBOY News. “It’s not necessarily to go in and accuse their child, but to look and see and maybe catch something that they didn’t know was going on so that they can open that dialogue and get the child maybe some help.”
Kids were not allowed to attend the session where parents and guardians learned how to sleuth around a kid’s room, as well as received tips about online safety and how to monitor their children’s phone and tablet activity.
Whether a program like “Hidden in Plain Sight” can actually help parents keep their children safe remains to be seen, but many are willing to err on the side of caution ⏤ even if it means surrendering some of their privacy. The thin line between good parenting and invading a child’s privacy has always been a tricky one for parents to discern, and it has only become more complicated with the advance of technology.