Holiday kids break the law for kicks
9 tips to keep your bored school holiday kid from breaking the law for kicks.
There’s a saying: “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” It's mostly meant as a caution: If we don’t stay constructive, we end up being destructive. This is also true for some kids, especially during longer holidays.

When kids are older, parents won’t necessarily spend the entire holiday with them and as a result these children are sometimes left to their own devices. Boredom, peer pressure and thrill-seeking may all influence these children to act out in ways they’d normally avoid, sometimes even breaking the law.

School break bandits

It’s a phenomenon noted by local police, who are aware that petty crimes such as vandalism and graffiti increase during holiday periods. Teens may be allowed out later and their movements may not be as closely monitored by parents during holiday periods. They might be tempted to be destructive just for kicks, but can also get themselves into much bigger trouble, by breaking into cars or stealing from neighbours. Holidays present a long time period with reduced supervision, so the risks of substance abuse and experimentation may also increase.

9 tips for worried parents

Not all teens are would-be criminals, so don’t keep your kid on lockdown until school starts, but do keep building on the parent-teen relationship. Here are some tips for avoiding that dreadful feeling when the police knock on your door to chat about your wild child:

1. Keep the curfew. Consider an appropriate time for your child to be home and make sure they stick to it.

2. Even though it can be annoying, offer to drop them off and pick them up at their friend’s houses or the mall to prevent them wandering the streets. This will also ensure that they don’t get mugged or targeted by real criminals.

3. Most teens have phones. Insist they keep the phone charged, on at all times and that your kid is always contactable. If you choose, you may even have an open-phone agreement, which allows you to check their activity in terms of chats, searches or calls.

4. Join your neighbourhood watch or at least stay in contact with them. Some neighbourhood watches have active social media accounts where they share relevant information. A roving teen may be noticed and monitored here. This can also be a great place to ensure that your teen isn’t going to high-risk crime areas.

5. Give your child suggestions for things to do and provide the resources to do it. Get creative with your kid! If you give your child money, it’s not unreasonable to ask for receipts to make sure that the milkshake they claim to have bought is not a can of spray paint!

6. Many businesses take on extra workers during the holidays: Your over-16 child could learn what it is to work and earn some cash, too.

7. Get to know your child’s friends and preferably their parents, too.

8. Make sure your child understands the value of property, and that vandalism such as graffiti can cost money to repair. If your child destroys someone’s property and you find out, make your child pay for it by either performing chores or out of their own savings.

9. Keep an eye on your child for any signs of drug or alcohol abuse or experimentation and make sure you keep chatting about these issues.

Not all kids are bad or tempted to break the law during the holidays, so with a little creativity, your kid can be kept busy and constructive.

What do your teens get up to during the holidays?

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