Is It OK for a CPS Worker to Ask a Child to See Their Internet History?

Updated on August 10, 2012
D.Đ. asks from Deer Creek, OK
13 answers

I was at my friend's house and they have a CPS case. The CPS worker asked her little sister to view her internet history. She showed view her internet history to the CPS worker. Is it OK for a CPS worker to do this?

My friend is 23 and I'm 24. This is her 14 year old sister. I have an almost 2 year old. The house is in my friend's name so her parents can qualify for an insurance. My friend let us stay there for a few weeks.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I think that if CPS asks for anything that the person should do this. Because if they don't the worker can always call the police and just take the kids. IF there is nothing to hide they should not have any issues to showing them even the skeletons in the closet.

I have my computer set to erase my history daily and to not save passwords and stuff. So, if you do that then you are never going to find anything inappropriate on the computer history. Now if they take it to a computer person that will search deeper then they will find every place you've been going for years. Otherwise, no big deal.

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answers from New York on

Once CPS is involved with a family, very few things are considered "off limits". My guess is that there is a specific issue with appropriate use of the internet in the family and the case worker is trying to get more information.

Were the parents home during this?

Just a suggestion (because I think you are quite young), you should NOT be present while CPS is in someone's home for many reasons. The biggest reason being that it's a private and legal matter that you do not want to get yourself mixed up with.

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answers from Dallas on

Why wouldn't that be ok?

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answers from Atlanta on

Absolutely, I would think so. While Americans have the right to refuse search & seizure, this right is mitigated by a warrant and, in some cases, probable cause.

By the way, I agree with Krista. The next time CPS shows up at your friend's house, it's time to excuse yourself for a while.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

If they are performing an investigation, then yes, it's probably part of that. The internet is a tool that sexual predators use - not to freak you out - but young children, especially girls, are a target of online creeps and they may be making sure that this hasn't occurred.

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answers from Norfolk on

Why wouldn't it be ok?
People like to pretend they have privacy on the internet and all it really is is one big honking bill board to the world about everything you do on it.
There is no 'private' - it's all incredibly PUBLIC.
And people voluntarily put every facet of their lives out there for everyone to see.
Parents, employers, schools, law officials - you name it - EVERYONE can look you up no matter what your age is.
It's worth it to keep your data squeaky clean and make sure there is very little of it for anyone to find.

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answers from New York on

Yes, especially if there has been problems that involve the internet. Next time, excuse yourself while CPS is in the home. CPS visits can be stressful for the entire family, even those not involved. The parents have every right not to let CPS in their home, but one consequence is that the parents may not be vindicated.

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answers from Dallas on

Yes, I would think so. Especially, if there has been some sort of trouble involving the computer. CPS was at her house, so something isn't right. I would think the mother was there, when she asked....?

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answers from Jacksonville on

I don't have any practical experience dealing with CPS. But a few thoughts come to mind reading your post.
1) Why was CPS visiting when the responsible party (your friend? Or is it her mother?) wasn't present? That seems odd to me. It may not be odd, but it seems like they would want them present...unless they were investigating some sort of issue regarding insufficient/inadequate/inappropriate supervision of the minor(s)... when they would want to see what is going on when the responsible party is not home. So maybe that answers itself.
2) Either way, I would also assume (gets me in trouble sometimes to assume, but...) that they would need permission from an adult (not a 14 yr old) to view anything sort of documents in the home. But, maybe being under CPS investigation/scrutiny "relieves" you of some of those kinds of rights/expectations... Can they just walk in and demand to see their bank statements, too?
3) I would excuse myself if CPS showed up. That is not for you (or me, or anyone else outside the immediately affected family) to be involved in.
4) And like everyone else, the amount of privacy people assume they have on the internet always surprises me. An acquaintance was fired from her job last week, after she had posted multiple "I hate my job" and "I am looking for a new job as fast as I can" comments on her FB. Then was outraged about it. I am no longer amazed by people's lack of common sense.

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answers from Seattle on

Nearly anyone has the right to ask for anything. Police can ASK to search your self/car/home/etc. As long as you agree, then they don't need a warrant. Schools can ASK to see your curriculum if you homeschool. In nearly all states, you're under no obligation to / can say no and nothing can come of it. A neighbor can ASK to borrow your car. If you say yes, then they aren't stealing it.

Only in discrimination cases (like for job hiring, house renting, etc.) is asking limited in certain fields (can't ask if you're black, pregnant, gay, etc. legally).

When the courts are involved (like CPS), 9 times out of 10, you want to bend over backwards to provide anything they ask for in a timely and pleasant manner. The 10th time, it had better be because your lawyer told you not to.

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answers from Richmond on

no, its not ok for the cps worker to demand to see the younger sisters internet history, the cps worker is supposed to only be interviewing the specific child named in her casework. she can ask all she wants, you can refuse. if she threatens you, warn her that you would be well within your rights to report this incident of harassment to her immediate supervisor, and will do so if her hostile behavior continues.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

I would say they need a lawyer. They (CPS) don't have the right to even come in the house or ask the child any questions without a court order. I am astonished that most people on here assume that social workers/CPS have all the right to do whatever they want. They do not! So many people believe they are above the law (CPS), but they are not. People, learn your rights before you give them away so easily. Because we homeschool, we have been educated on what our rights are in regard to CPS, and have a lawyer on retainer just in case. They will not have access to our children or our home unless they have a court order, and they will be talking to our lawyer on our front porch. Did you know anyone can call CPS anonymously about you and they have to follow up? It could be someone who is mad at you for anything and totally making up lies about you. They have no recourse, and you will be assumed guilty unless you can prove you are innocent. Do not give this agency more power than they think they already have. They do have an incredibly hard job, and see all sorts of horrible things. I think it makes them a little jaded about normal homes sometimes, as though the people must be hiding something. Be careful.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

If CPS is involved the worker will be submitting at least one report to a court. Based on that report CPS will stay involved or close the case. It seems it would behoove the family to fully cooperate with the worker, rather than try to second guess her and try to determine if it was OK for her to ask to see the internet history. Depending on the case CPS has, internet access may at some point or may have played a role in the case, if not since the child is 14 it makes perfect sense that she would ask.

And technically, a CPS worker can remove a minor from a home and ask questions later. They pretty much can do what they want "in the interest of the child," with parents having to go to court to prove why it shouldn't have been done or no longer needs to be. Let them sort this out among themselves, you don't need to be there or involved.

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