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His friend's mother didn't seem too concerned - all children do it, she couldn't have afforded to buy him those things anyway and the shop was big enough not to miss what she regarded as a small amount of money.
The excuse that, among other things, it's some sort of rite of passage and, therefore, that there should be some leniency is an incredibly irresponsible approach.
Most of us as children did probably take (that is, steal) something at one time or another. And probably, for most of us, what happened next was that we were filled with guilt and fearful of being found out.
Very young children sometimes take things they want not fully understanding that things cost money and that it's wrong to take something without paying for it, while younger school-age children usually know but might have insufficient self-control. However, by the time they're 10 they know only too well and possibly steal for the thrill of it or because their friends do.
Shoplifting should never be viewed as a phase, a mistake or justifiable. When it happens, it should be a learning opportunity about stealing and consequences. If it isn't, then shoplifting can become a habit, even a challenge.
Shoplifting isn't a victim-less crime and the minimum action a parent should take is to front up to the business owner with their youngster and have them return the item and apologise.
As well as an age-appropriate conversation, there should also be an offer of some age-appropriate recompense, including financial if the product cannot be returned. Recompense could range from some weekend shopping trolley duty to clearing the rubbish for a week, along with whatever penalty needs to be imposed at home.
In the case of the mother of the 10-year-old, she first took her son and his bag of stolen toys to the police station, where an excellent conversation and a tour of the cells took place.
Next stop was the shop, where the manager also handled it well and advised her son that he wasn't allowed in the shop without an adult for 12 months.
Mum paid for the goods and repayment was deducted from his pocket money each week. Once completed he was allowed the toys. At that point, he decided he would rather donate them to the local kindergarten than keep them.
From an early age the message that ``if it's not yours, you don't take it'' needs to be clearly given and practised. Teenagers need to think about the long-term consequences of not being a person who can be trusted and of having a criminal record.
- Ian Munro