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In many cases, private investigators are hired to investigate events that have already occurred, such as adultery by a cheating spouse. However, part of a private investigator’s job is also to conduct preventative surveillance to counteract any potential threats.

These preventative services are most commonly used in the area of child surveillance. Many parents who are concerned that their child’s activities outside of the home might be either dangerous or unsafe are often surprised by the findings of an investigator. For more information about how a private investigator can help you keep your child out of harm’s way, you should consult with an experienced private investigator.

Types of Preventative Surveillance

As explained above, conducting preventative surveillance is designed to find evidence of possible future wrongdoing rather than investigate an incident that has already occurred. For these reasons, preventative surveillance techniques are primarily observational in nature. The following types of observational techniques tend to be successful in child surveillance cases:

  • GPS location tracking;

  • Active “tailing” (following) of the mark;

  • Keeping a record of activities and contacts with others;

  • Listening devices (where appropriate and legal); and

  • Video surveillance (where appropriate and legal).

In addition to these observational services, certain investigatory tools can be useful as well. In most cases, this could involve interviewing your child’s friends, teachers, or other acquaintances to learn more about his or her activities. In other cases, this could involve setting a “honey trap” for your child to roleplay what might occur in certain scenarios. For example, the investigator could pose as a drug dealer and arrange a fake “drug buy” to determine whether your child is involved in illegal narcotics.

Private Investigator Discretion

As a general rule, a private investigator’s activities are confidential with the client. Therefore, if you do not want your child or others to know about an investigator’s involvement, the investigator will use the utmost discretion when uncovering the evidence you are searching for. This could include maintaining a safe distance or using primarily observational techniques to gather information about your child’s activities.

The Ethics of Hiring an Investigator to Track Your Child

Many parents who consider hiring a private investigator to follow their child and report on his or her activities are understandably concerned about the privacy implications of their activities. For this reason, we do not recommend child surveillance outside of the home unless you suspect that your child is involved in activities that could be detrimental to their health or safety such as experimenting with narcotics, engaging in gang violence, or conducting minor crimes such as shoplifting. In cases like these, it is very important to have hard evidence of what your child is doing so that you can stage an early intervention. Ultimately, your child’s safety comes first, and if you believe that your child may be headed down the wrong path, it is important to seek help sooner rather than later.