what state are you in?
Thank you for your question.
I am sorry you are having problems with your teenager. There is no excuse for her behavior.
You asked for an opinion and here it is. If you report the illegal activity, and what she has done is illegal activity, you may have to deal with the consequences of everything that happens to Nia. Once your report the fraud to the police, the District Attorney will determine whether or not to press charges. (This gets sticky because once the ball is in motion it becomes very difficult to stop. So, even if you think they are charging or treating her too harshly, they can compel you to testify against her to follow through with your case.)
If charges are pressed, she could face jail time or a fine. Either way, this could have an impact on her future. Depending on what how the charges are pressed, as an adult or a juvenile, this could have a lasting impact on her life. As you will be able to see from other questions posted on this site, many years after the fact people will write this site wondering how to get an indiscretion or charge off their record because it is holding them back. So, my main consideration here is, once she gets straightened out and this becomes a thing of the past, is the consequence of having a record something you are going to want her to have to deal with?
With regard to a bootcamp or a program, I only know reputations. I have no first hand experience with a school in Virginia. However, I really trust information from the people at The Family Compass. Their website is:
Take a look at their site and if you feel the information is helpful give them a call. They will be able to give information on programs that would benefit Nia and can hopefully get her turned around.
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If you report it stolen, then they will review the purchases. When they find out that you reverse the last purchase, it will lead back to Nia.
Contact the credit card company and dispute the charge as a charge that was unauthorized by someone in your home. If you do not want to press charges, then explain that the card was temporarily stolen, but since you are considering military boot camp, or someother proactive parenting method, you do not desire to press criminal charges and will not be contacting the police. See if there is anything that can be done without contacting the authorities. You also have the option of contacting the shoe company and canceling the order if it has not been sent out yet. Explain the card was stolen and that you will be authorizing the card company to stop payment on the funds. Ask them to refrain from sending the merchandise because knowing this situation, they are in the a position to mitigate the damages. Or, you can wait to receive the shoes and return them -- many online companies have liberal return policies.
Nice to see you again. I'm sorry to hear about what's going on with Nia. I must agree with Kat in that whatever problems you are having with Nia, the last thing you want to do is create a criminal record for her that will stick with her for the rest of her life. I know how angry you must be, but one day she will be an adult woman that hopefully you will be proud of. You're angry now, but a record could affect her schooling, potential jobs, even potential mates.
With that being said, I would consider a few options. One would be to take everything of value out of her room. I know people who have done it, and it's very effective. Wait until she is out of the house and strip her room down to the bare essentials (bed, dresser, blanket, pillow, clothes, shoes), everything else gets packed and put away. When she comes home, explain to her that this is how you felt when you saw your credit card statement....robbed, deceived, lied to. She can do an assortment of services to pay back what she owes, either by doing things around the house, or even better have her do volunteer work at a community center, elder home, hospital, etc. Arrange how many hours she would have to work to pay back the full amount. Once she pays back the full amount, then you can either give her her things back all at once, or you can have her earn those back too. Either box/bag by box/bag, or by the cost of each item.
You could contact your local police department and ask if they have a scared straight program. You could also ask if they could have a cop come to the house and "arrest" her and keep her at the station for a while ( a real arrest might have to be put on record, so they would simply be picking her up, not actually arresting her). You could tell her that you reported the card stolen when you saw the charges and that you didn't know it was her, and that the credit card co sent the police (if the police would agree to do it), I have known police to agree to do things like this for teenagers with problems.
If the police won't do it, perhaps you have a friend who is a lawyer, who could do something similar, pick her up, and take her out and talk to her about the possible charges and where she could end up. It may be less effective, but still helpful, and may work well with a punishment at home.
I see that you mentioned military school. Is this the first time she's done something like this? How does her dad feel about it, have you spoken to him?
Her deadbeat dad could be a big part of why she's acting out. Somewhere in her subconscious, she could be blaming herself for the fact that her dad is a deadbeat. She could feel unworthy of love, kindness, goodness because she may feel that he is incapable of it, and she is his child. She could feel, if he doesn't love her, then perhaps she doesn't deserve to be loved. All of which causes a lackadaisical outlook on life in general. Perhaps therapy is in order? This is a hard age in general, it's a catch 22 between learning how to act like/be a grown up, but also being expected to stay in your place as a child. Hormones are raging, peer pressure can be enormous, television and radio send all the wrong messages, it can be extremely confusing for kids and difficult to find and maintain an identity they feel comfortable with.
Does she participate in extra cirricular activities?
How long have you been in your stepdaughters life?
How do the two of you get along?
How does she get along with her mom?
Any other siblings in the home?
I'm not familiar with the program. I looked them up on the BBB and I don't see any complaints, but there's also a lack of any info on the web about them at all. I would also speak to the therapist your dealing with and see if he/she has any recommendations