If there are several acts of stealing, they should be dealt with sternly in the family, using the behavioral concepts that I mentioned earlier. If there is major stealing of money and other valuables, the parents should consider involving the police and pressing charges. Although this seems harsh, the principles behind it are easy to understand. If a teen is stealing from you because he perceives you as being weak and if family consequences aren’t helping with that, the family needs to seek outside help in order to strengthen itself. Secondly, and this is very important, if kids get away with stealing valuables from home, they’re going to develop a value system which allows for stealing any time the person can justify it. When I have gone to youth detention centers to talk to the teens I was working with about the crimes that got them there, they invariably had a justification for it. That type of justification, or what we call an “alibi system,” is developed and reinforced at home. In short, teens develop a way of thinking to justify their teenage behavior. They develop an alibi for everything. Once that alibi system becomes criminalized, you’ll see an increase in the amount of antisocial behavior such as stealing, drug use, and sometimes aggression. Parents who insulate kids from the consequences of their behavior are only extending, supporting and reinforcing the bad judgments that lead to those behaviors.