Shoplifting is one of the most common crimes committed by teenagers. When you hear the word shoplifting, what do you think of? And what do you think about a person who shoplifts?
Everyone has their own opinion on whether shoplifting is wrong, depending on the situation, but I do not believe in situations. Shoplifting is a crime. It is illegal for a reason. There are no excuses for stealing. Sometimes life is so hard that the only way to get necessary items is to steal, but if the United States says it’s okay for people who cannot get help to steal, then it is saying that it is okay for everyone to steal.
I am part of Youth Court, which works with teens under 16 who have committed misdemeanors. Almost every session has at least one kid being prosecuted for shoplifting. This is a serious problem. I live in a town where the majority of the population is middle class. Why do people shoplift?
This question will never be answered because no one really knows what drives people to commit crimes. There are theories, but no facts. Some of us use the excuse that kids steal because of peer pressure, but I believe that is bogus. You make your own choices, and don’t get pressured into doing anything. People are smart enough to know what is right and what is wrong.
When teenagers get caught doing something they are not supposed to be doing, their general response is “It was peer pressure!” That is just an excuse. Teenagers believe that if they say this is the reason for their bad decisions, they will be in less trouble. This may be true when it comes to parents, but not when it comes to the judicial system. If you are caught, making excuses won’t help. You will get the same punishment, with or without the excuses.
I think store-owners need to be more cognizant of their merchandise, especially in malls. I have seen teenagers stealing items from mall kiosks, which are easy targets because there is little security. Something needs to be done to ensure that teenagers stop stealing and learn discipline.
The price of shoplifting is not free. Why risk getting caught and going to court? It is better to obey the law than to break it. Teenagers need to stick together and stop our peers from getting in trouble with the law. We need to take a stand!
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.