Shoplifting And Peer Pressure Go Hand-in-Hand: How To Stop Teens From Stealing

By Subodh / March 2, 2014

These days, the number of shoplifting cases involving teenagers is rising at an alarming rate. There are various reasons why a teenager decides to shoplift; however, he can’t escape the fact that shoplifting is stealing. Therefore, he will have to face legal penalties if he is caught, and this includes getting arrested and possibly charged with a crime.

Unfortunately, most teenagers do not realize the seriousness of this criminal offense. What teens may consider as an innocent prank can affect their future, including their chances of getting into the University they want or getting a job. Many teenagers find out too late that the law takes shoplifting very seriously. As a parent, you need to understand the most common reasons why teens shoplift and what you can do to stop your teen from stealing.

Girls in the street

Peer Pressure And Shoplifting

Most parents find out that their teen has been stealing in one of two ways- either they discover the problem on their own or a police officer informed them of their teen’s arrest. If unfortunately, you discover that your child has been stealing items from a store, you should immediately call the store and make him return the items. Adolescents should know more information about the consequences of their behavior to prevent them from committing the same mistake again.

You might be wondering what drives a teenager to steal items from the store. Is it because of their needs? Or is it because of a mental health condition? Or is it because of peer pressure? Many parents excuse their child’s behavior as a mental disorder wherein they cannot control their impulse to take items. What most parents need to understand is that very few people actually have kleptomania- the compulsive urge to steal.

The most common reason why teenagers shoplift is because of peer pressure. Your teen might steal because he wants to be accepted or he wants to look cool and daring. He might also be forced to steal items because their friends are also doing it. Or he might steal because he badly wants things that his friends have but that he can’t afford them. Unfortunately, some teenagers will do anything just to be accepted by their peers. Although these teenagers are aware of the risks, they are willing to take it just to be socially accepted.

What Can I Do?

Talk To Your Teen: The best thing you should do is talk to your teen. You should let him know that shoplifting is a criminal offense with legal consequences, including:

  • High penalties
  • Probation
  • Counseling
  • Community service
  • Serving time in a juvenile detention facility

Be Vigilant: You should also keep an eye out for your child. You should know who his friends are by inviting them over. In addition, you should also lookout for certain items your teen might have which he can’t afford. If you notice new things, you should ask where he got them and check to make sure that he’s telling the truth. When asking your teen, try to be cool about it and avoid accusing him of anything without any proof.

The Rubber Band Technique: If your teenager comes to you and confesses that he has this urge to steal, you can try this rubber band technique. Give your teen a rubber band and make him wear it around his wrist. Tell him that he could snap the rubber band lightly every time he feels the urge to steal. The aim of this technique is not to cause pain or to punish; however, this technique will help your teen focus on the present and control his urge. It also allows him to know how often he was thinking about stealing.

To prevent your child from breaking the law, there should be proper discipline and communication. If you fail to combine both then your teenager will make mistakes which he might regret for the rest of his life.