As I was perusing the news today, I came across the NBC headline “Texas Teen Fabricated Abduction.” I clicked on the headline and proceeded to read that a 15-year-old girl in Texas reportedly “fabricated” a story about how three men held her captive against her will. The article went on to say that this teenage girl “likely was involved in prostitution,” and in fact, she was not abducted or held captive. So she was allegedly lying. The teen reportedly ran away from her home a few months ago. However, detectives investigated further and found evidence that the girl had been sexually assaulted by one or more of the men. As of now, the suspected men are awaiting potential charges.
To be completely honest, I’m not sure which parts of this story are true and which are fabricated. I had to read the article twice just to understand it. What I do know for sure is that this young girl is clearly very troubled and is crying out for help. What I also know is that sexual assault is a serious crime. And victims of sexual assault are often crippled by significant mental health symptoms, sometimes involving memory problems and hyper-arousal. At the end of the article, there was a rather nasty comment about the girl having to “learn a lesson the hard way.” I don’t know about you, but I firmly believe no one should have to endure a trauma such as sexual assault in order to “learn a lesson.”
If this teenage girl did lie about being abducted, I’m not saying we should excuse her behavior; however, there is likely a lot more behind the function of the lie. The tough thing with kids and teens is that their brains aren’t fully developed like those of adults; thus, they’re more likely to act impulsively. Kids and teens don’t always think before making an important choice or decision and often lie without truly contemplating the long-term consequences.
Often times, teenage lying is viewed as “manipulative” and “sneaky.” Sometimes these accusations are correct, but more often the lying behavior is serving an important purpose (e.g. to avoid consequences, blame, or embarrassment). So next time you catch your teen in a lie, rather than focus on the lie, focus on the function of the lie (e.g. What exactly is your teen trying to accomplish when she lies about her algebra grade?). If you can talk with your teen about the issue he or she is lying about, it’s likely to reach the root of the problem rather than just getting angry about the lie.
Do you have more questions about children or teens who lie? Let us know and contact Harmony At Home for resolution today!