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Talking with Teens About Crime

May 2006 article

Parents have a great deal of influence over their teens’ views of right and wrong behavior. Therefore, it is important to constantly talk with teens about alcohol, drugs, violence, gangs, and other aspects of crime. Speaking and listening to your teen will help you understand the peer pressures and influences they face. Moreover, you can share personal experiences, validate your teens’ thoughts and ideas, and show them respect by listening to their points of view.

Parents can use the tips below to start conversations with teens about crime.

  • Find time to speak with teens every day, even if only for few minutes. Ask teens open-ended questions; this encourages conversation.
  • Talk with teens about staying safe; remind them of previous conversations you have had concerning crime and violence prevention.
  • Let teens know about your expectations for their behaviors, and make sure that you are a positive role model.
  • Learn about pertinent issues and warning signs of harmful behaviors. Share your concerns with your teens and ask questions about their lives.

Parents should also understand why teens experiment with harmful behaviors, in order to prevent the behaviors from occurring. Teens may become involved in delinquent behavior because they think that doing so will enable them to

  • Fit in and belong
  • Have fun and feel good
  • Satisfy curiosity
  • Take risks
  • Imitate older people
  • Express independence

To prevent teens from engaging in harmful activities, discuss new ways for them to spend their time. Provide opportunities for positive activities and encourage involvement in sports, volunteering, etc.

To learn more about talking with your teens about crime, check out the NCPC topical brochures or order the new NCPC resource, Parents and Their Children: Talking Together.

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