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Q. My 13-year-old, Heather, has a new friend who pressured her to shoplift (she resisted). Obviously she can't go to the mall with this girl again, but should I tell the parents what happened? I'm afraid my daughter will be harassed at school if anyone finds out that she confided in me.
A. I get that you want to protect your child, but this is one of those times when parents have to come together to raise ethical children. If the incident stays secret, the other girl's parents can't hold her accountable. So tell them, in person or on the phone, saying something like, "This is really hard to talk about, but after our kids were out together last week, Heather told us your daughter tried to shoplift." If the girl's parents become defensive, or blame your daughter, calmly say, "I'm sorry you're upset but I really thought you'd want to know." Also inform them you've told Heather not to discuss the matter outside the family. It's unlikely the other girl will spill, but if kids do get in Heather's face, she should remind them that stealing lipgloss isn't worth getting a police record.
Originally published in the November 1, 2010, issue of Family Circle magazine.