School Behaviour modification on Stealing


Before the presenter will go into the full work the presenter will have to define some key words or factors that concern this work.


Behaviour according to Stella N. Nduka-Ozo (2005) is the sum total of all the activities of an organism (both observable and unobservable) a he interacts with his environment”. Essuman Nwaogu and Nwachukwu (1990) in Nduka-Ozo (2005) see it as “any activity of an organism which is either overt or covert. According to Achebe (1988) in nduka-ozo (2005) he defines behaviour as “an activity of an individual due to his interaction with the environment”, therefore behaviour is any activity of an organism while interacting with the environment.

When the activities of an organism is accepted and does not affect other individuals around the organism, such activities is regarded as a desirable one. But when those activities of an organism does not meet with the norms of the environment which means that it is not accepted and it also affect other individuals around the organism, it is considered undesirable and therefore need to be modified.


       Essuman et al (1990) in Nduka-Ozo (2005) sees behaviour modification as “a scientific, systematic way of changing undesirable behaviour to a desirable one. Stella N. Nduka-Ozo (2005) sees it as “a process of changing the undesirable activities of an organism into desirable and acceptable form”. Therefore one can say that behaviour modification is a systematic way of changing those undesirable activities of an organism both (overt and covert to desirable ones.


       According to Essuman et al (1990), in Nduka-Ozo (2005) he said that there are six (6) steps, procedures or methods that can be use to bring about change in behaviour scientifically. The steps include:

v    Problem identification, definition and study

v    Goal setting

v    Selection of methods or technique

v    Implementation of technique

v    Evaluation and correction

v    Follow up


Definition: According to oxford advance learners dictionary 6th edition “is an act of taking something from a person, shop, store, etc without permission and without intending to return or pay for it”. According to EVA in nwamuo A.P, Ekwe, A.O (2005) stealing involves any incident in which an individual deliberately takes and keeps an item which does not belong to him.

       Form the above definition we can now believe that when an individual takes what belong to another person without the person’s consent that is stealing. Such behaviour has to be habitual before it could be refer to as stealing and needs to be modified. These items such individual take may belong to another individual, school or community. Therefore we can say that stealing is an act of taking something from someone unlawfully.


       Pear pressure: Some young individuals can be pressurized by their pears to steal just for them to be accepted in their group and also feel belonged. That is why it is vital for some parents to discourage their children from becoming friends with such individuals who are known to engage in stealing activities.


       Some individuals steal just because they don’t have the money to purchase what they want or need. They became professional because they steal some items belonging to some other individuals and still sell them. Some do steal in other to meet their basic needs, this means that such an individual steals to get things he/she want. Atimes, if parents refuse to bring them what they want due to lack of money or they don’t want to buy it for them, they could be forced to steal.


       Some individual who steal do so because of depression. On this, when depression is the case those individuals steal just to feel better. Some steal just to release some pent up anger or frustration while others could engage in stealing because they are incapable of coping with the problems they are facing. Because of these reasons why people steal it is important to note what emotional or mental issues are pushing a person to steal for proper intervention to take place.


       Some people believed that what makes people to steal is as a result of being poor or not having enough food or money but this shows us that it’s not all that, that feeling of being deprived of something can lead someone to steal and it is much more prevalent than we think.

       For example, feeling financially deprived can trigger for a range of morally questionable behaviours from simple stealing to white collar crimes like embezzlement, to destructive crimes like office sabotage.


v    Stealing from pot

v    Stealing from parents

v    Stealing from peers

v    Stealing from the school library

v    Stealing of some minor property

v    Criminal stealing.

These are some forms or categories of stealing and models.

STEALING FROM POT: Stealing from mummy’s pot always occurs frequently among children of nowadays in different homes. This (pilfer) occurs in different forms like stealing (pilfering) meat from pot, food etc.

STEALING FROM PARENTS: Some children adolescent do steal their parents belongings and so many other things. Like they do steal their parents money, jewelries etc and if not controlled could lead to adult stealing which stopping may be too difficult to such an individual.

STEALING FROM PEARS: This form of stealing occurs mostly among adolescents of these days unlike before any where adolescents gathered both in schools or social gathering we do observe this kind of stealing (tapping) as they generally called it. This (tapping) can occur in different forms like stealing (tapping) of biro pens, clothing, books and even pants especially among the girls in secondary and tertiary institution etc.

STEALING FROM SCHOOL LIBRARY: According to Nwamuo A.P. Ekwe A.O (2005), Ndem (1979) carried out a survey research investigating the reasons for stealing of library books. It was as a result of unavailability of books, and the librarians not being vigilance enough. A times these adolescents steal (tap) from library to use the books at their convenient and also to add up to their collections.

STEALING OF COMMON PROPERTY: Some individuals go about to steal properties owned by the public. As we all know that public properties (properties owned by the general public) are less cared for, so some individuals take such advantage to steal those properties. Like stealing of louvers from public buildings and stealing of laboratory equipments.

CRIMINAL STEALING: Chaudler (1980) in Nwamuo A.P, Ekwe A.O (2005), this is the most serious form of stealing. This kind of stealing is mostly engaged by adolescent boys as a result of being influenced by old boys or old members of the gang whom those adolescents liked their ways of life. They are being nurtured to behave that being caught is wrong, that when someone gets away with what he stole such a person is believed to be a “fast guy”.

       These are some of the forms of stealing we can explain here. After this we can look on how to characterize people who steal.


  1. Hungry People: A times hunger can be a tendency for stealing. Like some children who steal (pilfer) from a pot of rice are as a result of being hungry. Maybe their parents do not always give those children enough food that will satisfy them to eat. That could result them going to pot to feed themselves without their parents consent and when asked they will deny. Even some adolescents and adults who steal as a result of hunger do so because they don’t want to die out of hunger.
  2. People who feel deprived of something and depressed people too: Feeling deprived of something or depressed can led an individual to steal. As we can see in some offices today, embezzlement is the order of the day because those who engaged in that feels that they are being deprived of their financial benefits and this kind of stealing is what is known as white collar crimes. Again when some individuals feel depressed, because they can’t cope with the depression they will be frustrated into stealing.
  3. Low socio-economic status: It is generally believed that individuals who are from lower socio-economic families have a greater risk of stealing tendency than those of their counter-parts who are from higher socio-economic families. It is believed that they develop stealing tendency in order to meet up with societal demand. But it is not so these days because most individuals from a rich families steal the more just because there is no parental care unlike those from a low socio-economics families.
  4. Hyperactive, aggressive and withdrawal individual also develop stealing tendencies: These individuals are mostly moody, disgruntled, unhappy, alert and watchful for opportunities to steal (tap). Such individuals are very difficult to control unlike others and their behaviours are disruptive. If not managed properly, it could disrupt their development and the development of other children in that environment.

As we have seen some characteristics of people who steal, we are to look at the consequences of stealing to the individual.


  1. As we all know that stealing is an undesirable behaviour, no one will like his/her child or family members to associate with such a person.
  2. Anybody that steals loses his/her respect in the society.
  3. It can lead to a poor academic performance because such an individual hardly concentrate on his/her studies.
  4. When you are fond of something people can label you that which may lead to frustration and depression thereby drinking, smoking and joining bad groups may become the result at end.
  5. Such individual could develop inferiority complex because of being stigmatized.
  6. Such individual that steals is always suspicious of everyone.
  7. The individual who steal develops negative attitude generally to life and the society at large.

We are going to look at the effects on parents of an individual that steal.


  1. As we all generally believed that an individual that steals inherited it from the family, their parents are stigmatized in the society.
  2. Parents of such individual that steals a times have a health risk. This stealing in children is a source of stress and worry for parents. We know that stress can lead to health conditions such as ulcers and high blood pressure.
  3. It affects the parents economically. Parents pay for the stolen items or repaying damages that were as a result of their Childs behaviour, legal fees just to prevent the child from spending time in jail or paying bail as set by the court can cause financial constraints. And those time parents spend handling the case may affect their work which can affect their income
  4. Parents of such individual get frustrated, depressed and unhappy over their Childs habit of stealing.
  5. The prestige of the parents in the society is being affect thereby not having any respect again from anybody
  6. Anytime the child is around, the parents feel uncomfortable and unsecured because of the Childs stealing tendency.

We are to discuss some effects of stealing tendency on the society.


Stealing has some effects on society and some of the effects are

v    Stealing affects the general development of a given society as some things that bring about development are being stolen by thieves.

v    The thieves make people of the same environment not to trust each other and that is more costly to society than these lose from theft. One spent money on locks for his processions, and the more money on locksmiths when he loses the keys.

v    Stealing of public property such as NEPA materials exposes the society to hardship, because it affects the water supply, light and businesses etc.

v    So many investments from public and private sectors are going down due to some professional robbers in the society.

v    If thieves steal something from a store, the cost of that thing has to be recovered and it is done by increasing the price of other goods to recover the cost. So stealing affects the society in a greater rate.


a)          It affects the individual by as thieves rid the individual of his property that may be of use to him thus reducing his productivity.

b)         It affects the individual because such person is to invest more in security structures which reduces the resources available for investment.

c)          It creates fear, anxiety and worry on the individual whose property is stolen.


       In modifying this undesirable behaviour (stealing tendency) these counseling techniques are being applied they include:

v    Aversive conditioning

v    Stimulus satiation

v    Covert punishment

v    Time-out from positive reinforcement

AVERSIVE CONDITIONING: Here the word “aversion” can be define as a strong feeling of not liking somebody or something according to oxford advanced Learner dictionary. On this the process of modification is enhanced through avoidance conditioning by associating a noxious (that is harmful) stimulus with the object of stimulation.

       If a child goes to pot of food to steal (pilfer) maybe the mummy cooked a delicious meal, here mummy is to dish out more than the child can eat and forced the child to finish the food before he can move or stand up from there. The child will overfeed, cried and also beg for forgiveness and promise not to go to pot of food again. Therefore, we have seen that we can use aversive conditioning to modify the child that pilfers from the pot.

STIMULUS SATIATION: Stimulus satiation is just like aversive conditioning but it is not. Stimulus satiation is a method of presenting a response stimulus at such a high rate that it is no longer desirable or it may even become aversive Stella Nduka-Ozo (2005).

       Therefore, while using it to modify a child who steals (pilfer) for example meat from a pot of soup. The parents of the child are to spend their money and time to prepare meat for the child and bring it in the pot and ask the child to eat the meat. The child will eat the meat until he gets fed up and can even vomit, after the child passed through this, he/she can never try to go to pot for meet again thereby the modification has taken place.

       Covert punishment: according to Nwankwo (1995) in Nwanuo A.P, Ekwe A.O (2005) “in covert punishment the client is made to imagine an aversive stimulus in form of serious adverse consequences while or after performing an undesirable act”. Here the modifier ask the client with stealing tendency to imagine a situation where he/she was caught and treated like a criminal by beating, stoning, arraign him/her to court for stealing or even killing him. All these imaginations as if it is a real life may help to stop the client from steal. Because he/she have imagined that if he is being caught how it will look like, so to avoid those things he imagined not to happen he have to stop such act.

Time-out: Time-out involves isolation of an individual from that particular area of reinforcement or that place that maintains the undesirable behaviour for a period of time. If a child shows a stealing tendency in class, the teacher can use time-out to modify such behaviour by sending the child out of the class for some time while the lesson is going on. The student can watch through the screen if there is any louvers which make the child feels deny of opportunity of enjoying the class with others. This will make the student to desist from such undesirable behaviour (stealing) that caused him to experience this time out.


       Stealing must be attacked to reduce, eliminate and even destroy not only by the counselor, also by the family, church, school and the society at large. Like an adage that says that stealing is an ill wind that blows no one any food. Therefore, efforts should be made by parents, guardians, family members of the individual, pastors/imams, counselors and others from the society at large to get stealing (pilfer/tapping) among children, adolescents and even adults reduced or even eliminate totally.


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Stella N. Nduka-Ozo (2005). Behaviour Modification in

       Guidance and Counseling. Enugu: Jones

Communication Publishers.


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