Upon arriving home, I found my door slightly ajar. After some careful investigation, I find my son’s friend in the kitchen and he is going through a drawer. Next to him, on the counter, is a lock picking tool and some of my jewellery. I am faintly aware of the smell of marijuana and realise that my son’s friend must have been smoking it. Unsure of how to handle the situation, I asked him to leave and he did so quietly. However, after his departure, I sat down to think about how best to handle this. Thinking of my own son, who is sixteen, I realise that if someone found him in a similar situation, I would be grateful if they didn’t ring the police and instead, chose to tell me about it. However, as a home owner, it concerns me that the boy might be repeating these activities in other homes. Also, quite importantly, as my son’s friend, I wouldn’t want to be seen as alienating him. It is quite a difficult decision.
The boy is the same age as my son and so, I recognise that he is a young and impressionable boy. Sixteen year old boys are full of testosterone and are frequently quite keen to prove themselves socially, and so this could have simply been a dare. However, if it was, the boy was taking it quite far by taking some of my jewellery – he could have simply taken an egg or a book or something equally as inexpensive and inoffensive to prove he had carried it out. A question immediately enters my head: is my son involved in this? If he is, it could be that they chose this house so that they could easily return the items. If he isn’t, it means that his friend has betrayed his trust in quite a painful way. However, in either scenario, it concerns me that my son is at all affiliated with this young man as I would hope that I have raised him to be of a stronger character than that. Equally, the young man in question, had broken in relatively easily and without any real damage which suggests a certain level of expertise and, when coupled with his having lock picking tools, it is easy to infer that he has probably done this before. The fact that he also smelt of marijuana immediately makes me wonder whether he is stealing to fund a pot habit.
At this point, I have ruled out ringing the police for a number of reasons. The first being that at sixteen years of age, my son’s friend has his entire life ahead of him and it would be a shame for him to have a criminal record marring that when in all likelihood, he has not intended for there to be any malevolence behind his actions and is probably acting out for a number of different reasons. Juvenile involvement in robbery is roughly 1 in 4 arrests (OJJDP, 2008) and I would not want to add to those statistics. There is a strong chance that if managed correctly now, he will reflect on this in ten years’ time with a deep regret and ashamedness. So, with that in mind, I decide to ring the boy’s parents and tell them what I saw and also, what I smelt. On this basis, I would hope that they will be able to manage their son’s behaviour in an effective way which will prevent him from going further than a criminal path but without having to involve the police – although, that is their decision to make.
The questions that this thought process raised also led me to decide that I should speak to my son about this. I decided to sit him down and talk it through calmly and without raising my voice. I hoped that his natural reaction would be on of anger and this would indicate that he was not involved and unaware of his friend’s choices. However, I felt it was important to talk to my son about drug use and to discuss with him, in quite a liberal manner, the negative effects of drugs – including the increased potential of diverging into criminal activity (Perkel.com, 2009), as his friend has demonstrated. I would discuss with him, the legal ramifications of his friend’s actions and the decision that I made. I would also encourage him to not be cross with his friend and to talk through his reaction with me first.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (2008). Juvenile Arrests. Retrieved from http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/qa05102.asp?qaDate=2008
Perkel.com. (2009). Marijuana: telling teenagers to truth about smoking pot. Retrieved from http://www.perkel.com/politics/issues/pot.htm