QUESTION: My 14-year-old daughter has been caught with a group of girls shoplifting underwear from a department store after school. There were five of them caught and all the girls, except my daughter, had stolen underwear on under their uniforms.
My daughter denies ever stealing anything but these girls are her closest friends and they've admitted they do this regularly. The police are involved and interviewing them all. At this stage, they are not separating out my daughter. How can I help her and how can I be sure she's telling the truth?
ANSWER: If the police are involved, then getting to the truth is their job. You can't influence the process. It's quite possible that your daughter wasn't shoplifting but it's hard to believe she was unaware of the other girls doing it.
There's always a consequence and being involved with a group like this means she'll be tarred with the same brush as them. By staying with the group as they shoplift, your daughter is condoning the behaviour.
Shoplifting is a huge problem. Your daughter and her friends may think a big company can afford to lose a few pairs of undies, but no business can sustain ongoing theft.
The other problem is that petty crime usually leads to more significant crime. Would your daughter stay with the group, but not participate, if they beat someone up, or broke into someone's home?
It's good that the police are dealing with your daughter, because the episode could be a timely reminder. She may not be prosecuted but hopefully she'll get a fright.
You ask how you can help your daughter. I think you need to discuss all this – and her choice of friends. What qualities do you admire that you'd like her to think about? It takes courage to stand up to a group of friends and disagree with their behaviour.
Perhaps you could also monitor her after-school spare time for a while. If she's free to drift into town then why doesn't she get a job? There's nothing like working on the other side of the counter to make someone gain respect for the tough role of retailing.
Mary-anne Scott has raised four boys and written three novels for young adults, including Sticking With Pigs which was released in March 2018. (One Tree House). As one of seven sisters, there aren't many parenting problems she hasn't talked over. To send her a question email email@example.com with Dear Mary-anne in the subject line. Your anonymity is assured.
- Stuff NZ