I Caught My Teenager Shoplifting. What Do I Do?

It’s a nightmare for every parent. That is, the moment your teenager’s caught stealing. Parenting was difficult enough as it is, but now, with your teen’s actions, there are consequences, and you may be charged with handing them down. Something went wrong at some point and the result was that your teenager decided to steal. Remember first and foremost, the incident doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. It’s a learning experience for everyone involved.

Whether your teenager acted on their own or they were with a group of friends, they’ve surely upset the business. Now’s not the time to point fingers at business or rush to judgment about who’s responsible. Once you have the story, the aftermath starts right away. Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about responding after your teen’s been caught stealing.

Decide on the Consequences

Under Texas law, a juvenile is a minor who is at least 10 years old but not yet 17. But even a juvenile knows right from wrong and knows that people and the law frown on stealing. Remind your teen from the start that there’ll be consequences, perhaps legal ones. Reminding your teen that they’ve broken the law is a critical step in correcting their behavior in the future. Teens who understand that stealing could get them sent to a juvenile detention center may be less likely to act out in this manner again.

The consequences at home could range from grounding to the taking of privileges, either of which can prove substantial to a teenager. Let them know that they’ve abused their privileges and taken advantage of their freedom in a way that’s counterproductive to their maturement into adults. There will likely be police involved and they will also handle this responsibility. Decide on the consequences before you enter the car and you’ll feel much more in control of the situation going forward.

Set a Positive Example

Yelling and screaming is a bad idea. Now’s the time to set a positive example. Your teenager has gone wayward for one reason or another. Either because of defiance or because they needed to satisfy a craving, there’s no better way to set them straight than to act mature. Set a positive example by talking with the store owners and apologizing for your teen’s behavior. Or, even better, ask them to do it. If your teen apologizes in front of you, you’re showing yourself and those around you that you’re the bigger person and willing to be a positive role model.

Identify if There is A Pattern

According to Mental Health First Aid, roughly 50% of all mental health disorders begin by age 14. With mental health problems and self-destructive behaviors, all too frequently, a pattern emerges. Have you noticed your teen’s more withdrawn and isolative? Have they been lashing out more frequently or acting aggressively? Often, past behaviors are the best indicator of why your teenager is stolen. At some point after the theft, you need to go over everything in your head and be sure. Is there a chance that your teen’s been showing red flags all along and you haven’t noticed?

If so, this is your chance to stop your teen from going down a dark path. Direct them towards mental health treatment, specifically counseling, if you believe they could benefit from talking to someone. The benefit of mental health counseling is that your teen will be able to work out tough issues in an office, rather than resort to self-destructive behaviors like stealing. As long as you’ve identified the pattern, you’ll be in a position to now do something about it.

If you don’t think shoplifting is serious, understand the consequences of shopping at Prussia Mall, or anywhere else in Montgomery County, PA, for example. There, you might be required to pay a fine of $150, but anywhere else, the consequences may be steeper. It’s really worth the effort to redirect your teen. Take this time to set a positive example, be a role model, and set the appropriate consequences. As long as your parenting skills are on target, your teen doesn’t have to make the same mistake again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *