As summer approaches, many parents are looking for things to keep their kids occupied and out of trouble. One issue that even parents of kids who are relatively problem-free find themselves dealing with is stealing.
When young children take things from stores, they often don’t understand that it’s wrong. They see something they like — such as a candy bar or toy — and grab it. Parents need to begin teaching kids from a young age not to take things that don’t belong to them or leave a store with something that hasn’t been paid for.
That’s a lesson that may need to be reiterated a few times as kids get a little older. However, by the time they reach their preteen and teen years, they should know better. Unfortunately, kids can be goaded into shoplifting by friends. They may do it for the excitement of it, to rebel or because they just want something they don’t have the money for.
As kids get older, parents are less likely to be able to resolve things with the store owner by returning an item or paying for it. Some store owners will be satisfied with one of those solutions. Others may press charges.
If they don’t, consider yourself lucky and make sure that your child realizes they could have ended up in juvenile court. Determine what kind of consequences will most effectively teach your child a lesson and keep them from stealing again.
If stealing — no matter how small the item — becomes a pattern, it may be time to seek help for your child from a therapist, minister, school counselor or even a support group. For some people, shoplifting is the sign of a compulsive disorder that requires treatment.
If your child is arrested for shoplifting, it’s essential that you take the matter seriously. It might be tempting to let them face the legal consequences for what they’ve done on their own. However, it’s wise to make sure that they have an attorney on their side to protect their rights.