Is Your Teen’s Shoplifting Ever Excusable?

It’s the call that no parent wants to get. Your teenager has been picked up by the police for shoplifting. From a possible criminal record to the embarrassment of friends and family finding out, a child’s arrest can be a tough time for any parent.

Although theft is a crime, how would you deal with it if your teen insists they had good intentions behind it? Possible excuses might be stealing a sandwich for a homeless person. Or taking something to be a nice birthday gift for their sibling. How does their good intention play out with the actual charge? Is there ever a good excuse for shoplifting?

Handling Your Teen’s Shoplifting Arrest

1. Talk with your child.

Though your first reaction might understandably be anger and irritation, it’s important that you remain calm. If your teen has been arrested and is in a police station, chances are they are frightened or hysterical. Encourage them to tell you the full story, and their reasoning behind it and ask that they be honest with you. Let them know that the more honest and forthcoming they are, the more likely it will be that you can help them.

2. Talk with the authorities.

If this is your teen’s first offense, talk with the arresting officer about the circumstances surrounding the shoplifting. Find out if there is any way to talk with the store owner or have your child apologize instead of proceeding with criminal charges. For the most part, nobody involved in the situation will be interested in seeing a good kid who has made a mistake damage their future with a criminal record.

3. Get copies of all paperwork.

If your child has been arrested on a criminal charge such as shoplifting, you will want to ensure you have copies of all the necessary paperwork should you need to seek out the advice of a criminal attorney for the court proceedings.

For more information, go to: Take notes and also ask your teen to write down the full details of the situation, including any extenuating circumstances and intentions, so they don’t forget anything. Every bit of information you can provide to your attorney will help.

4. Prepare your teen for the possible outcomes.

Although your child may have shoplifted with the best of intentions, it’s important they know how serious the crime they have committed is, and how it could possibly damage their future. Discuss how an arrest record can impact college applications and future job prospects, as well as their reputation as a whole. Talk with them about the expenses that you will now incur with attorney and court costs.

It is also important that they know there is a possibility the charge will be dismissed, however do not let that take away from the seriousness of the charge.

Dealing with your teen’s shoplifting arrest is a truly difficult situation for any parent. However, by remaining calm and following the appropriate steps, the possibility for your child to come out of it unscathed becomes better. Although they may have had the best intentions, it’s important they remember for the future that theft is never acceptable.

Debbie Nguyen is a freelance graphic designer and blogger. Her two teen boys have done many incredibly dumb things, but she’s thankful that shoplifting has not been one of them. She’s eagerly awaiting the next parenting challenge they throw at her.

Photo Credit: teen help