Shoplifting is one of the most common crimes in America, and it is an activity in which many troubled teens engage. According to the National Learning and Resource Center, there are over 27 million shoplifters in America, meaning that approximately 1 in 11 people is guilty of shoplifting. The National Learning and Resource Center also reports that over half of adult shoplifters claim to have started the habit in their teens, so if you suspect that your teen could be shoplifting, it’s important to end the practice now to prevent it from carrying over into their adult life. Below you will find three of the most important basic facts about teen shoplifting:
1. Your teen could be guilty.
Studies indicate that shoplifting affects a very wide segment of society. Men are just as likely to shoplift as women, and rich teens shoplift just like their poorer peers. Research suggests that shoplifters are usually unlikely to engage in other types of illegal behavior, which means that your seemingly well-behaved and communicative teen could be shoplifting when he or she leaves the house to spend time with friends. Therefore, it’s important to talk to your son or daughter about the consequences of shoplifting, regardless of whether or not you suspect that they’re actually guilty of the crime.
2. Teens usually shoplift for silly reasons…
The reasoning behind teen shoplifting is generally very simple: They wanted the item. Often, teens steal from stores because they want to own something which they cannot afford, and this is sometimes related to the desire to fit in with current trends at their school. Some teens shoplift because of peer pressure; their friends engage in the practice, so they feel as if they should do so as well. Other teens shoplift strictly for the rush. The thrill of getting away with stealing something provides a high that many shoplifters eventually learn to crave. Many people claim, in fact, that shoplifting is equally as addictive as some drugs.
3. …But some teens shoplift for more serious reasons.
Although most teens shoplift because they want new possessions or because they like the feeling of being rebellious, some teens shoplift because of serious underlying problems. One possibility, although rare, is kleptomania, a disorder in which a person cannot resist the urge to steal. Kleptomania is usually characterized by its apparent randomness, with kleptomaniacs many times stealing things that are completely useless to them and are often even discarded after the theft has taken place. Because kleptomania is a serious condition, it should be treated by professionals.
Another possible motivator for teen shoplifting is a drug habit. Some teens shoplift on a regular basis in order to obtain the means to support their drug habit. Especially if the teen is unemployed or if they are using a particularly expensive drug (such as cocaine), shoplifting may be the only means by which they can finance their drug use. If your son or daughter has been caught shoplifting and they are also exhibiting some of the symptoms of teen drug use, then you should seek help from a professional immediately.
If you discover that your teen has been shoplifting, it is important that you confront him or her with calm emotions and a level head. Although you may feel angry, betrayed, or blindsided, especially if your teen is one of the many teens who are otherwise very well-behaved, becoming worked up is certainly not the best course of action. Your teen is probably shoplifting for a simple reason, but there could be a surprising underlying cause that is much more serious than the act of shoplifting itself. Therefore, before rushing to conclusions and harsh punishments, you should have a serious discussion with your son or daughter to determine the reasons behind their actions.