As a Security Professional I spend extra time making sure the old adage about "The Plumbers Plumbing" does not apply to my home and loved ones.
What the adage insinuates is that if a person does something for a living, they don't take care of it for themselves when they are off work because it would be like working instead of relaxing.
There may be some truth to this. Over the years while consulting homeowners on Security Systems for their home, I have heard numerous times "I'm safe because I have a Police Officer that lives next door". I have to point out to them that while it is nice to have a security aware neighbor with the ability to protect, I doubt when they are off duty they spend their day looking out the window or patrolling for potential criminals.
In addition to having a well designed home security system in my own home I make sure that my family is using it and that I test that each device is working properly and the monitoring link is functioning at least twice a month. I back my phone line link up with a cellular backup signal and change quest codes as soon as they are no longer needed.
I keep up with local crime statistics and give some thought to and educate my loved ones on how to prevent themselves from being a victim of those types of crimes. I have a fire escape plan in place and discuss it with the family at least twice a year. I have a password that only my family knows and practice how in an emergency it must be used to identify a safe situation. I talk to the kids and wife about preventing themselves from being apprehended and what to do if they are. As a security professional I know that doing these things does not guarantee that we will be safe, however it does lessen the odds of becoming victim's of these crimes dramatically.
I never rest on my laurels when it comes to crime prevention and I research as much as possible in my attempt to be a thorough educator through my consumer advocacy website at expertsknow.com, or my training and consultation programs for security alarm dealerships. In order for me to bring fresh ideas to the table I have to constantly think outside of the box.
I have recently discovered a tool that is untapped and waiting to be used as a grass roots crime prevention tool. Its ability to keep children safe as well as help prevent them from becoming criminals themselves is immeasurable if used in the proper context. Remember crime prevention starts at home.
Some people will see it as an invasion of privacy but the odds are good that these are the same parents who have children planning crimes in the garage with their friends and don't know about it until it is too late. (Yes, I'm thinking about Columbine!)
It is also in my opinion best to use the information you will gather in order to help heighten your awareness and open the door for guidance and discussion with your children, instead of being used as a tool to punish them. The first time you use this knowledge out of context it will be considered an invasion of privacy by your loved ones and they will promptly make sure it's no longer available to you.
Any child or young adult that has access to a computer is most likely MySpace savvy and an active member. MySpace is a youth-oriented social networking phenomenon with millions of users. We have often heard news stories about stalkers and sexual predators using it to find their next victim. What we never hear about is parents and family members using it to check in on their loved ones emotions and innocence.
If you are the type of person that feels that this is an invasion of privacy and want to turn a blind eye then now is time for you to stop reading this article. If you are like me and want to know everything you can to help, guide, understand and protect your loved ones then please use what you are about to learn in that context.
Myspace.com is a place where every member can create a web page about themselves. They will often have pictures, personal likes and dislikes, favorite activities and a Blog (web-log) which is a diary for their closest friends to gain access to. I have a large family and when I started checking on all of my nieces, nephews and cousins I was amazed with how different they are in a personal social setting from when they are interacting with their parents, aunts and uncles. This is no shock as I remember being a kid myself, but I'm talking big difference. One of my cousins kids brags of being a street pharmacist and curses like a sailor. (Time for some discussion about street activities without letting the cat out of the bag).
Here's how to use the tool:
Go to myspace.com
Just under the search bar on the main page you will find from left to right
Home Browse Search Invite Film Mail Blog Favorites Forum Groups Events Videos Music Comedy Classifieds
Click on "Search" the third from the left.
(You don't have to be a member of Myspace to do this)
Once there you will find a box labeled "Find a Friend" and you will be given a choice of:
1. Name (First and Last)
2. Display Name (Screen Name they made up for themselves)
3. Email (Their email address)
Check your choice, put their info in the box and press "Find"
There will be many people that come up that have the same name, so play around with these and see if you can find your loved one. E-mail is my first choice as they often use a fictitious handle or street name but you will be able to match information such as town, age, school, photos etc. When you find who you are looking for, click on the picture.
When you find the person you are looking for you will be able to read many of the thoughts that they want to represent them on their main page. You may not be able to get into the Blog or personal diary unless you are a member of myspace.com. Your child has to accept a member as part of their circle of friends to get access to this area for some and it is open access for others if they didn't turn that feature on. (a good way to see if your child is security conscious)
Take the time to read the comments on the page that their friends are making as well. This is the most used area of the space and most likely why your kids use it in the first place (To chat with their friends). You can tell allot by the things they say to each other.
Also click on the pictures of their friends sites to see what your loved ones are contributing to their page. (and who their chosen friends are).
Your comments and suggestions are both welcome and encouraged.
Matthew is a 22 year veteran of the alarm industry. He has served as an installer, salesman, licensed alarm company owner, monitoring station designer, promotions and marketing director with one of the world's largest security dealers. He now works as a consumer advocate, teaching consumers how to buy or get systems for free (without being taken). He also consults alarm dealerships on how to market to the educated consumers that today's alarm dealer is finding. He is committed to being unbiased.
His web site is