This on news.com.au:
Parents spy on kids
By Stuart Sherwin
May 22, 2006
DESPERATE parents who fear their children are hooked on drugs or drink are hiring private detectives to track them.
Brisbane detectives say parents are paying up to $1500 to have their worst fears confirmed, or put to rest, by undercover surveillance.
Teenagers have been filmed taking drugs and drinking in pubs and clubs – sometimes by teenage investigators.
Peter Harkin, of Brisbane-based International Detection Services, said worried parents contacted his firm every week.
"Their kids might be staying out all night or hanging around with a new crowd. Parents might even find drugs in their own homes," he said. "They will come to us out of sheer frustration because they cannot get plausible explanations from their children. They are upset and simply looking for answers."
Most youngsters involved are 15 to 18, but children as young as 13 have been tailed. A typical investigation costs $800 to $1500.
Mr Harkin, a former policeman, said: "Drug use is very difficult to show as substances are taken quickly and privately, but in most instances we are able to provide . . . some evidence of drug or alcohol consumption."
His firm usually uses younger detectives (one is 19) to watch teenagers. Inquiries often reveal nothing sinister. One teen staying out all night was cruising the streets in his beloved new car. When drug or alcohol addiction is found, IDS may put parents in touch with drug addiction experts, but otherwise its role is simply to establish facts.
M&D Investigations, based on Brisbane's northside, also regularly tracks teenagers. A spokesman said: "You might have a child whose parents know they've been lying about their movements. We . . . find them going down the park drinking alcohol.
"Sometimes it's parents who have money, but don't have time to spend with their children – wealthy parents who have a lot of business and work commitments."
Caroline Salom, of the Brisbane office of DrugArm, a national drug counselling and rehabilitation service, said parents should first try to discuss concerns with children.
"What we have found most effective in families where drug use is suspected is open, honest and understanding discussion with the young person," she said. "I'm surprised parents have chosen to hire detectives rather than discussing it with their children, but we do not condemn or condone such action."
She advised worried parents to contact DrugArm's Home Assessment and Response Team.
Mr Harkin said most parents did try to speak to their children before hiring his firm's services. " Sometimes parents have a right to know what's going on. To people who criticise our methods I just ask what would they do if they feared for their child?"
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