How To Discourage Your Kid From Shoplifting
The legal consequences of shoplifting may not be as severe for a juvenile as they are for an adult, but this doesn't mean that the consequences are pleasant for minors. In serious cases, juveniles can be sentenced to community service or get sent to a juvenile detention center. As a parent, take the following precautions to discourage your child from stealing:
Identify the Reason and Deal with It
Kids steal for different reasons. Some steal due to peer pressure, others because they are jealous of their friends' possessions, and others to get attention from their parents. Identifying the cause of the problem may make it easier to deal with. For example, if the child is stealing to get attention from you, see if you can increase the time you spend with them and introduce them to other interests/hobbies that can occupy their time. Don't get this wrong and excuse your child's actions just because the intention was misguided; stealing to gain attention is still stealing. But at least identifying the cause of the problem helps to prevent its re-occurrence.
Be Clear On the Consequences
Teach your child that stealing is wrong, and do it every time you catch them at the habit. In fact, if you see your child trying to steal something from the store, teach them the consequences of their actions on the spot. Focus on the consequences for both the victim and the perpetrator.
For example, you can explain how stores may realize losses and may have to shut down (making many people lose their jobs) if people steal from them. You also need to explain the legal consequences of getting caught. The level of detail you can get into depends on the child's age. Explain how they can be arrested and get sent to court and jail.
Punish the Child
Don't underestimate the effect punishment can have on a minor caught shoplifting. Punishment is good as long as it is carried out appropriately. For example, a punishment that elicits positive action from the child is beneficial rather than that whose sole aim is to cause pain. For example, you can make the child pay back the cost of the stolen item plus interest. The child may have to forgo their allowance or do some odd jobs to raise the money, which teaches them the consequences of their actions rather than just inflicts pain.
If your child is charged with shoplifting, it's advisable to get them a professional criminal law attorney, such as Robert A Murray. At best, you should get the charges dropped. Even if that's not possible, a good lawyer will help to mitigate the consequences of the child's actions.