My teen is shoplifting, what should I do?

While most parents genuinely believe their kids would never do such a thing, teen shoplifting is a serious issue. Regardless of income, past behavior, and other factors, all teens are susceptible to shoplifting. Some do it out of peer pressure while others simply do it for thrills. Despite the underlying reasons for the behavior, shoplifting can have a lasting impact on a teen’s life, especially when the item taken is of high value. Here are a few steps parents can take to prevent shoplifting. 

Explain the effects of the crime 

It is easy to look at shoplifting as a victimless crime, which many teens do. In this case, it is up to parents to explain the ripple effects of stealing and how it can affect others. For example, stores that experience theft often have to increase their prices. In turn, business owners could lose profits, while workers could lose jobs. Putting a personal angle on stealing makes the crime – and its consequences – more real to teens. 

Have a discussion about ethics 

Regardless of the impact, stealing is wrong and teens should face up to that fact. Asking your son or daughter about personal ethics and whether they are important is a good way to frame why stealing is inherently bad, no matter who the victim is. Emphasize the importance of honesty and fair-dealing, even when no one is looking. 

Emphasize the possible punishment 

Kids caught stealing can be taken to jail. While the practice is largely used as a deterrent, except in cases where items of great value have been stolen, it is still extremely embarrassing for kids to undergo the process of being questioned, fingerprinted, and needing to make a call so that a parent or guardian can retrieve them. The next time you are out shopping, talk to your kids about these possible consequences before a problem arises. 

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