When your kids talk in code, start deciphering. Their texting may be admissible in a custody case.
When your son or daughter texts “P911” to a friend, it means “Urgent! Parent Alert.” PAW means “parents are watching” and PAL means “parents are listening.” And then there’s “MOS” — mother over shoulder. And the list goes on and on.
Watch out! If your children are texting in code, it may be more confusing than speaking in tongues. Still, the abbreviations can be deciphered rather easily these days, and you may be surprised or alarmed to see what the kids are saying. What would you do if your son texted to his friends the numbers “420,” a code for “let’s get high”? Or if your daughter typed in “CU46” — see you for sex?
When you’re in the midst of a child custody dispute, these texting tribulations are not only a concern with respect to the children, and how they’re spending their time. They’re also a potential source of damaging evidence. Kids texting about drugs, alcohol, sex, cheating in school, cutting classes, telling lies, or disliking their home life are dangerous witnesses against you. A parent who seizes a child’s phone and produces a transcript of his texting record can do tremendous damage to the other parent by demonstrating how poorly the other parent manages the child. A texting record can also make a parent out to be a liar, if a child describes a situation differently than the parent testified to it in court.
Start treating your household texters seriously. Learn their codes, and find out what they’re talking about. While privacy is important, and everybody should have some degree of freedom of speech, you need to supervise the ongoing dialogue of chit-and-chat to prevent your precious loved ones from inadvertently developing evidence that can be used against you.