If so, you’re forgetting that vandalism includes so-called minor offenses, too, from doodling in textbooks to sticking gum under a chair. In other words, school vandalism is any behavior that damages property.

Here are some ways to keep your child from committing acts of vandalism—and to deal with him if he already has:

• Explain all the behaviors that are considered vandalism. If you don’t think gum under the seat or scribbles in a book are vandalism, he won’t either. Together, review your child’s school handbook and the policy on vandalism.

• Talk about respect for property. Explain that he must be a responsible member of the school community. Discuss the expense vandalism costs the school system.

• Enforce a consequence. When your child vandalizes something, have him make amends. If his teacher says he wrote on his desk, suggest to her that he clean all the desks.

If his offense is more serious and requires something to be replaced or repaired, make him pay for it. If he doesn’t have the money, pay for it yourself. Afterward, have him work off his debt by doing extra chores around the house.

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