Teen vandalism is a very common criminal offense that is sometimes considered a juvenile prank. Although some vandalism acts committed by teens seem like childish pranks to some people, as a parent, you need to remember that it is still a crime. You and your teenager need to understand that if he is caught vandalizing a property, he will be charged and convicted. This conviction can lead to serious and continuing legal ramifications. Some of the consequences of this offense may include:
- Permanent criminal record
- Lose the right to drive
- Denied entrance to reputable and credible College Universities
- Cannot apply for a college scholarship
Keep in mind that the permanent criminal record alone can result to huge problems that can affect your child’s future. To that end, it is best to help your teenager understand the seriousness of vandalism, and learn how to cope when your child is accused of this crime.
What Is Vandalism?
The official definition of this crime is the malevolent destruction, disfigurement, or defacement of any property- public or private, without the owner’s consent. This criminal act is also referred to as criminal mischief or malicious trespass. A person can be charged with this crime when he performs any of these acts:
- Creating graffiti in public areas
- Smashing mailboxes or car windows
- Throwing eggs at a car
- Slashing tires
- Setting off fire alarms even when there is no fire
- Trashing an abandoned building
Is It A Criminal Or Childish Behavior?
There are a lot of different reasons behind teen vandalism. As a parent, you need to properly monitor your child’s behavior. If your child had been caught, you need to figure out whether he committed the crime due to boredom or if you already have a problematic teen. The common reasons behind teen vandalism may include:
- Peer pressure: Someone dared your teen to do it or he wants to fit in with the new crowd.
- Gang initiation: Another reason could be that the act of vandalism was a part of a gang’s initiation. Gangs are known for putting up their graffiti on buildings, bridges, or overpasses.
- Revenge or rebellious behavior: A problematic teen is someone who is usually angry or has problems with authority. If a teen is angry or simply wants to get his parent’s attention, he will consider vandalizing or damaging a property.
- Binge drinking: Drunk teens make bad decisions. They are unable to properly think and consider their actions; thus, with a little persuasion or provocation, he might do something stupid, such as trespass a property and vandalizing it.
- Boredom: There are also teens who commit bad mistakes when they are bored.
As a parent, it is your job to understand and observe your child’s behavior. If you notice that he had been going out with new set of friends, find out about them. If your teen is truly involved with the wrong crowd, do what you can to protect him- which usually involves taking serious action. If your child has been caught vandalizing a property, you need to immediately seek legal assistance. In addition, you need to make your teen clean up the mess they made or pay for repairs.
The best way to address teen vandalism is to properly educate your child. You need to help your adolescent understand the difference between childish pranks and vandalism. To help prevent your child from committing such act, you can provide him with alternative and healthy activities, such as sports, art, or other after-school activities. It is also a good idea to live in a neighborhood where there are patrols to discourage teen vandals from doing any harm.
Pentel pen image c/o stixfigure.”pilot marker”
The author, Kris Hopkins, is a family counselor. She offers tips and advice for parents who are coping with teen vandalism. She aims to help her readers learn more about vandalism, its legal repercussions, and what parents can do about it.