Free-Range Kids

Florida Company Sells Ankle Monitors to Parents Who Want to Track Their Teens

"Most people-we're talking hardened criminals who try to cut it off-have ended up in the ER."

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Ankle
Jhandersen / Dreamstime

A company in Florida has started selling ankle bracelets—the electric kind felons wear on parole—to parents. The slogan on Tampa Bay Monitoring's website puts it bluntly: "When you need to keep track of your teen at all times."

Unlike the other GPS monitors parents are using, which track a kid's phone, this one is un-ditchable: The "bracelet" cannot be removed. Company owner Frank Kopczynski brags that the monitor is so secure, "most people—we're talking hardened criminals who try to cut it off—have ended up in the ER," he told the Miami Herald.

Two different models are available. First is a "minimally intrusive" bracelet that is "lightweight, accurate, waterproof, and provides instant alerts and evidence in the event of tampering, removal, loss of communication and entering or leaving set geographic zones."

Not quite sure how that qualifies as minimally intrusive, except that it is a little less San Quentin-like than the second model, which is bigger, bulkier and comes with an "optional, hardened steel encased security cuff."

Kopczynski says that he gets about six orders a week from desperate parents. But he's no slouch at amping up the parental desperation himself. To anyone worried about, say, the humiliation a teen girl might feel wearing an electronic cuff, he says that's nothing compared to her "running off with a guy who's going to eventually take her to a motel and beat her ass."

He is good at depicting other scenarios that torment a parent's imagination: What about runaways? What about sex trafficking? And, "With the opioid epidemic and fentanyl, what's worse: a dead child, or having them be embarrassed by wearing a bracelet?"

Parents do not need a court order to clamp one of these on their teen, though I'm guessing if any kid knew their parents were about to go this route, they would be tempted to run away, which is exactly what the bracelet is supposed to prevent.

The monitoring service costs $8 to $10 a day. One option includes a listening device that can hear whatever the wearer is saying—as well as what his friends (or kidnappers, I guess) are saying. It also allows the parents to speak to the teen demanding, "Sheldon, come home!"

This is all too reminiscent of the Black Mirror episode "Arkangel," in which a mom buys an iPad that allows her to monitor her daughter's activities. It doesn't end well. Neither will this.

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70 responses to “Florida Company Sells Ankle Monitors to Parents Who Want to Track Their Teens

  1. If your kid is that far off the rails, they aren’t worth the $8-$10 a day.

    1. I’m betting this appeals more to parents who are off the rails.

  2. “The monitoring service costs $8 to $10 a day.”

    Eight to ten bucks a day!!

  3. It also allows the parents to speak to the teen demanding, “Sheldon, come home!”

    Who bothers getting on of these for a son? He can’t get knocked up.

    1. depends on how they identify that day, doesn’t it?

      1. That’s right. Xe’s pregnant if xe says xe is.

  4. While I think there is clear evidence that helicopter parenting is not optimum for raising kids, parents can put leashes on toddlers and ankle bracelets on their kids too.

    The caveat is that health insurance companies should not be forced to cover kids until 26 and the state needs to get rid of the “safety net”.

    If you want to raise your kids to be paranoid, untrustworthy, spoiled little shits, then you are responsible for that. Both financially and morally.

  5. C’mon people, this company is just prepping the next generation for the future surveillance state. Get used to it kids, and I’ll know if you were on my lawn.

    1. how does it go — if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear?

    2. Maybe. Apple and Google are not really seen by most people as being tools of the surveillance state, yet they are.

  6. I prefer to track them in the wild, only use bow & arrow or spear, none of this catch and release bullshit.

  7. Absurd.

  8. It is always wise, when considering options for humiliating your teen, to keep in mind that they are going to have a big say in which old-folks home you get sent to in your dotage.

    1. Or if you get to go to one at all.

      I have four children, all of whom are not in their 20s so we’re through the teenage stuff, and I can’t imagine having considered doing this back when they were teens. Just another way to fuck up your kid…?.

  9. It would sure be interesting to get an independent study of the kinds pf parents who buy this, the kinds of kids who put up with it, and the kinds of kids who run away rather than wear this.

    I can’t imagine anyone I know even thinking of putting this on their kids, even if there were no daily charge, except as a joke before it actually existed, and certainly not now that it does exist. I can’t think of anyone I know who would have put up with this as a kid.

    1. To tell the truth, I can only see a very limited customer base. Rich enough to afford this, and with a child who is completely out of control (probably with multiple drug incidents or school skipping).

      Especially as you can do almost all of the same stuff with a phone app that costs $10 per month.

      1. Send ’em to boot camp and fuggeddaboudit

    2. I’m friends with parents who are over-invested in their kids, even pointing out n their day they were the same if not worse than their own kids, and the response I get is that times have changed. The world is far less forgiving of the indulgences of youth.

      So in order to keep their kids safe from a government that could do real harm, they have to be even worse police officers themselves. And there is a certain logic to it, but all the same I don’t think this is the best way to go about it.

      1. The world is far less forgiving of the indulgences of youth.

        Well. To be fair, that is true. See also the Heisman Trophy winner story, and the 3,419,625 stories about kids being labeled as sex offenders for playing doctor.

  10. If a parent thinks they need to do this then they have much bigger problems that a shock bracelet won’t solve. Besides, in a few years I’m sure there will be drones that can follow kids wherever they go and snatch them up at the slightest sign of “danger”.

  11. Black Mirror. Reality is imitating fiction….

    Oh, wait …China is way out in front on monitoring its slaves…Er, citizens.

  12. Opposition to this parental conduct is difficult to square with faux libertarians’ support for spanking, backwater religious schooling, vaccination exemptions, homeschooling-by-dumbass, abstinence-only programs, creationism in public science classrooms, and other forms of substandard treatment of children favored by right-wingers.

    1. You are SO boring.

    2. Look who’s showed up, our resident carny barking loon.

      Still bitter, still clinging and still incoherent.

    3. “vaccination exemptions”

      The anti-vaxxer “movement” has proponents on both sides, but most of the famous proponents are folks on the left. It’s mostly your team, Kirkland, not the other side.

    4. Provocation aside, he has a point.

      Ultimately whether this is permissible or not depends on how much rights and control you give a parent over their child. The creepiness factor is, or should be, irrelevant.

    5. YOUTH RIGHTS. Just sayin’.

    6. Who around here even in the comments ever argues for abstinence-only programs or creationism in public science classrooms?

      1. Since when did that thoroughly deficient nutjob need to actually need to make a cogent and materially supported argument? It’s all about emotional feeling toward superiority with that one. You don’t know what you need. Only the Rev does.

    7. But on the Left now, we have kids as young as 8 being saturated with with puberty blockers & hormones for their gender transition & genital mutilation, ignoring the fact that 75% of them will grow out of the urge to be the opposite gender if left alone….Is that considered “substandard treatment”, Rev?

  13. What in the ever-loving FUCK.

    Keep setting the standard, Florida. You crazy diamond.

    1. What is it about Florida and Floridians?

      Whenever I hear on the news about some exotic, bizarre behavior I just wait for the location to be announced…more often than not I’m rarely disappointed.

      1. At one point in the past there was a poster around these parts that just went by Florida Man, not sure what happened to them but I assume they stuffed a ‘gator with enough TNT and blew themselves to the moon while whistling dixie.

        1. The two most recent examples from Florida being:

          1.Man discovered having sex with miniature horse.

          2. Man attacks adult son with chainsaw whilst mowing his lawn. Neighbor quoted as saying they’d been having some disagreements.

        2. He’s a Glib.

  14. The average tech-savy 12-year old will just view this as a challenge.

    1. Yeah, if I put it on my 10 or 12 yr. old in the morning, I would expect to find it on my 5 yr. old by the next morning.

  15. When can we get a Reason branded version?

  16. The “bracelet” cannot be removed. Company owner Frank Kopczynski brags that the monitor is so secure, “most people?we’re talking hardened criminals who try to cut it off?have ended up in the ER,” he told the Miami Herald.

    The “bracelet” can be removed. If I had to make a list of people I would pay to remove it, hardened criminals would be towards the bottom of the list. I strongly suspect the hardened criminals that injured themselves trying to remove the “bracelet” had additional constraints such as “as fast as possible” and “using only the tools at hand” that likely contributed to both the inability to remove the “bracelet” and the resulting injury. Two criteria a relatively “free” teen isn’t going to necessarily have.

    I wonder how long the company would last after one of these things is found around someone’s neck.

    1. It doesn’t have to even be removed, per se, to be disabled. I bet an angle grinder into the body of the transmitter would do bad things to its ability to communicate, even if it didn’t come “off”.

      1. Try just wrapping the fucker in foil first, see what happens. It keeps the aliens out of my brain, right?

        /semi-sarc

        1. I suppose that might work, but presumably Little Overprotected’s parents are going to flip the fuck out anyway when the signal is lost, so you might as well make it permanent and expensive to fix.

          1. At a certain point, if the kid is able to get around the ‘safeguards’ you’ve done your job by making them a resourceful little shit.

  17. I’ve heard shock collars are much more effective.

    1. I miss shock collar parties

  18. “Running off with a guy who’s going to take her to a motel and beat her ass.”

    That was supposed to be a surprise, dammit! Thanks for ruining Christmas for each of my lady friends!

  19. And how will a cop respond to a teen wearing an ankle monitor?

    1. He’ll have to assume they’re a fugitive from house arrest and open fire to prevent them from fleeing.

  20. I get the “creepiness” factor here. In the vast majority of situations, this sort of thing is uncalled for, intrusive, and going to be severely damaging to any parent-child relationship.

    That said, we still give parents a wide degree of latitude over their children, up to and including determining where they live. I’m not sure if it’s still a popular trope, but I remember when being threatened to be sent off to “military school” was a real threat. How is this any worse then that? Just because it’s new and technological?

    So while I agree this is kind of creepy, I’m not so eager to say it’s necessarily wrong or out-of-line from what we already allow.

    1. YOUTH RIGHTS. Just sayin’.

      1. Disclaimer: the link didn’t work for me, so I don’t know what, precisely, you were trying to link.

        That said, I expect its’ largely irrelevant. Minors don’t have many rights in America, and even fewer when it comes to their parents. So if you’re trying to argue against this kind of monitoring on the basis of “rights”, you’re facing an uphill struggle that’s largely unsupported by precedent.

        1. Funny, we got the “military school” threat as well on occasion when parental buttons were really being pushed. Beyond a certain age I never took it seriously since I knew they couldn’t afford it.

          The rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit is codified into law for good reason. Children are not miniature adults.

          1. Eh, boarding schools (whatever they call themselves) have always been a privilege of the well-to-do. The low-income variant is juvvie. It’s the middle-class that really doesn’t have an option.

            1. The middle-class version is “treatment centers”. Of course, that option lasts only until the insurance runs out.

            2. I did have one buddy that got packed off to military school in an effort to get him on the straight and narrow. It pretty much seemed to work and after the adjustment period he loved it, must have cost his folks a fortune though.

  21. YOUTH RIGHTS. Just sayin’.

    1. YOUTH RESPONSIBILITIES. Doesn’t sound as appealing, does it?

    2. Not in this family, we’re running a benevolent dictatorship here.
      Just sayin’…and enforcin’.

  22. One option includes a listening device that can hear whatever the wearer is saying?as well as what his friends (or kidnappers, I guess) are saying.

    That would violate wiretap laws in some states.

  23. This is stupid for one reason and one reason only: it’s way easier to just track your kid through their phone without their knowledge or consent. If they don’t know they’re being tracked, they have no reason to ditch a device that no teen can live without these days.

    1. The trick is always knowing more than they think you know.

      1. Ugh, so problematic. Woke parents should know less than their kids know about almost everything. Including the child’s gender, what system of government is better, whether or not Santa exists and so on

  24. Start investing in senior homes. There’s a whole generation of parents whose kids won’t want anything to do them.

    1. Doesn’t seem to be happening so far. The young adults I know are extraordinarily attached to their parents compared to earlier cohorts.

  25. There are already monitors on phones and cars. The one on cars might be a good idea for a teenage driver as parents have a reason to know if their teen is taking chances and being an unsafe driver. The one on the phone can be turned off by the teen. A teen might turn it on for their own safety reasons, but can turn it off for privacy.

    Part of being a teen is breaking away from your parents. Yes, teens do stupid things and get into trouble. However, then need to become more independent. European teens take trains to other countries and are allowed to drink, smoke and have sex without having to hide these actions from adults. They are more mature and adult when they enter college or the workforce.

  26. To be fair, chastity belts were starting to show their age…

  27. I wonder if this is the natural progression of the “My parents spanked me and I turned out fine” movement.

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