It turns out that shoplifting is no longer a crime in Texas. Now it is called just plain theft. Many children cannot seem to stop their impulse to steal. It takes maturity and parental guidance to develop the necessary “moral muscle” to turn away from free access to great makeup or an iPod.
If your teen takes an item, even nail polish, worth up to $20, they are in violation of a Class C misdemeanor and the penalty is a fine of $500. If they thought the item costs too much at $20, think how they will feel about paying 25 times that amount.
Diving deeper into the issue, most experts recommend the following advice to parents of teens.
Communicate Your Stand on Crimes and Rule-breaking
Throughout your child’s life, take advantage of situations that arise regarding crime and its effects. Let them know that you feel that it is an unacceptable solution to any financial problem or as a way to gain a momentary thrill. Let your child know that you revile bullies, thieves and cheaters.
Teach Your Child Empathy
Too often, a young person will focus on the item stolen, the “shiny object.” Direct their attention away from the item and talk about how the victims must feel. Businesses aren’t impersonal monoliths of wealth that deserve to be taken from whenever possible. Those thefts add up to losses that their customers must cover. If an individual is the victim of theft, try to get your child to put themselves in the victim’s shoes.
Let Your Child Suffer Consequences
One of the most serious errors some parents make is that they protect their children from the logical consequences of their misbehavior. By not facing the natural outcome of an action, a child enters on the fast-track to antisocial behavior. Paying restitution, fines and performing community service can teach a child a lesson that cannot be equaled by any lecture.
Teach Your Child to Anticipate Results
The goal is for your child to have empathy for victims and knows that you will allow them to suffer any consequences. The Canon City, Colorado Police Department has an excellent web page called Parenting for Prevention that contains great parenting tips to keep their kids away out of the juvenile justice system.
If your teen has shoplifting charges or even a more serious offense, obtain competent legal counsel as soon as possible. A theft conviction will be hard to explain that to employers or college admissions officers. A good lawyer can make a real difference in giving your teen the best shot at a better future. And, of course, the teen should pay for their services.