Most teens do not consider shoplifting a very serious crime. Despite their blase attitude, shoplifting is taken very seriously and can lead to future legal issues and other behavioral problems.
When you look at the ages of the majority of people arrested for shoplifting, teens are overrepresented. In fact, 25% of shoplifters fall between the ages of 13 to 17. Additionally, 80% of teens admit they know someone who has shoplifted in the past. When it comes to shoplifting, it is important for parents to take the right steps to prevent more serious issues from occurring.
Inform your child of the consequences
There is a misconception that shoplifting is not punished severely. In recent years, the crime has been subject to increased fines and other punishments, including jail time. Make sure your child is fully aware of the potential consequences if they are charged. It is far from a slap on the wrist in most cases, especially when theft involves valuable items, such as smartphones.
Encourage your child to do the right thing
In the event you discover stolen items on your child and it is a first offense, insist they return to the store where the items were taken. In many cases, first-time offenders are subject to juvenile courts, which entail less harsh penalties but ensure that your child is made aware of the seriousness of the crime committed. Many juvenile courts use community service as an alternative “punishment, which is usually more constructive than simply fining a shoplifter or placing the person in jail.
Consider a psychological assessment
Some teens have deeper reasons for shoplifting. They may be reacting negatively to a family situation, such as divorce. They may also be experiencing the effects of mental illness, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. A psychological issue can determine the underlying cause of poor behavior and help your teen develop healthier coping mechanisms.