Kelly Weber, "Teens Who Expect Privacy at Home, School Must Earn It," Record (Bergen County, NJ), January 26, 2010, p. L2. Reproduced by permission.
Kelly Weber was a senior at Westwood Regional High School and editor for the Cardinal Chronicle, the school newspaper, when this piece was written.
Privacy is a very important part of anyone's life. Everyone has the right to keep a few things to themselves. Teenagers, especially, have the right to privacy, and I believe that sometimes we do not get enough.
The Benefits of Privacy
Throughout my high school career, I have earned my parents' trust. They know that I will do the right thing without too much interference or intervention from them. I was never forced to show them my homework or every graded assignment I got back; instead, I shared with them only what I chose to.
They would inquire about my day at school, but I was never hassled for every single detail. Of course, if I had a problem, they would help me with whatever I needed, but if I said everything was going fine, they believed me.
I think that fact helped me accomplish everything that I have. By giving me privacy as far as my schoolwork was concerned, they allowed me to make my own mistakes and achieve everything truly on my own. They were never on top of me to do my homework or study for a big test; it was simply expected that I would. I was encouraged and motivated by the fact that my parents chose to treat me like an adult, and worked hard to live up to their expectations.
Privacy Is Earned
It is important to note that I was given this privacy because I earned it. I had never given my parents a reason to not trust that I would do my very best in school. If I had given them an indication that my progress needed to be monitored, they would have watched me like a hawk. However, since I always did well in school, they rarely questioned me about my studies.
A little trust goes a long way.
The same idea applies at school. In all the years that I have been attending school, I have never once felt that my privacy was violated. In fact, the only time anyone's privacy is violated, like having their locker searched, is when they have aroused some sort of suspicion. Like at home, if you earn your privacy at school, you will receive it.
I believe that teenagers need privacy in order to succeed. Being treated like a child is an excuse for a teenager to act like one. If someone is constantly supervised, there is no motivation for them to take personal responsibility or to do anything on their own. I've found that when teenagers are treated like adults, they will rise to the occasion and act like one.
Teenagers and Parents
So, fellow teenagers, make sure that you earn the privacy that you crave. You can do this really easily: Just do what you say you're going to do. Try hard in school. Study for a big test days in advance, without being asked. Do your homework at your actual home, and put effort into it. Your relationship with your parents and your grades will both be better for it.
Parents, go ahead and give your children a little space. When you ask about their day and they give you a one-word response, let it go. If you know your child is a responsible student and an all-around good kid, believe that they are doing the right thing. A little trust goes a long way. If your child knows that you trust and believe in them, I guarantee that they will work twice as hard to validate your decision.