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Teen Shoplifting

How do you know if your teen is shoplifting? What are the reasons for teen shoplifting? Are there statistics on shoplifting? How can you help stop teen shoplifting? This article will review these questions about teen shoplifting, and offer tips on dealing with kleptomania.


Facts About Shoplifting - In the United States, shoplifters steal about $25 million in merchandise from stores each day! That breaks down to an extra $300 each year that you and your family have to pay in higher prices to cover the losses caused by shoplifting.

Teen shoplifting is one of those things that may be difficult to detect. Teenage shoplifting is not limited to the troubled teens with problems. Many "model" teens who do their homework and get good grades, help out around the house and lets parents know where they will be have a problem with stealing. So, while teen shoplifting can be a sign of a troubled teen, it can also be a problem for teenagers with few problems beyond the typical behavior of a growing teen.

Reasons for teen shoplifting

There are several reasons for teen shoplifting. Some teens do it for reasons of rebellion, and others do it for the thrill. Being able to "get away" with something can be quite thrilling. Peer pressure is another reason for teenage shoplifting. If their friends are doing it, some teens feel as though they have to as well, in order to "fit in." Complex reasons for teen shoplifting include cries for help. A teenager may be in an abusive situation, or feel a great deal of stress or anxiety. Stealing can give them a sense of control over their lives, and give them a sense of euphoria that they do not normally get. Some teenagers steal as a way to draw attention to themselves.

Another reason for teenage shoplifting is a desire for things they cannot afford. Some teens shoplift brand name items so that they can keep up with fads. Others shoplift so that they can buy drugs or alcohol. In these cases, teen shoplifting serves as a sign of a teenage drug or alcohol dependency.

How you can help stop teen shoplifting

If your teenager is caught stealing, it is important for you to react in a way that shows him or her that there are consequences for such behavior without becoming overly emotional or upset with your teenager. If engaged in teen shoplifting, bring your teenager back to the store to return the item and meet with security personnel. Most stores do not prosecute the first time it happens, and most judges (in cases where stores do prosecute) are fairly lenient on first-time offenders. However, teenagers should be made aware, by you, the store and the judge, that the consequences increase with each offense. There is little sympathy and tolerance for repeat teenage shoplifting offenders.

Dealing with kleptomania

It can be difficult for teenagers to stop shoplifting. Studies show that one third of teens caught shoplifting say that it is difficult to quit. This, however, could be due to a great deal of factors (including the thrill, the desire for expensive items, the need to pay for drugs). One reason, though rare, is kleptomania. This is a psychological disorder in which a person cannot resist the impulse to steal. This is a very rare disorder, and teen shoplifters rarely have it. With kleptomania, the items stolen are often of little value and discarded after stealing. There is usually no underlying reason for teenage shoplifting by someone with kleptomania. In such cases, professional help is often needed to help treat the kleptomania. Kleptomania is often accompanied by other personality or eating disorders.

Teen Shoplifting Main source material:

  • "My Child is Stealing," KidsHealth.org. [Online.]

Related Article: Youth Violence >>

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