Three little boys ages four to seven years old become a gang of little thieves, stealing merienda from a sari-sari store every time they grow hungry. But when they finally get caught, will they own up to their delinquency?
Three children, “Aaron” (seven years old), “Ren-Ren” (six years old) and “Kenneth” (four years old) were accused of stealing from Marietta Baronda's sari-sari store in Baseco Compound in Port Area, Manila.
After every school day, the children frolicked at the playground near Marietta’s convenience store. Once the children went hungry, Marietta said, they pilfered food from her.
At first, she and her helper did not notice, but then they found that they kept running out of stocks though their sales were not enough to empty their store.
Marietta and her husband immediately suspected the children. They tried to catch them in the act, but the kids were too sneaky.
Nevertheless, they remained vigilant, and finally caught “Kenneth” red handed.
Marietta immediately reported the children to barangay officials. Since they were minors, their parents became involved in the dispute.
As most parents would do, they came to their children’s defense and denied the allegations of Marietta against the boys.
When Karen Davila interviewed the kids, “Ren-Ren” and “Kenneth” admitted to stealing from the store. However, they did not seem to understand the gravity of their actions.
No money for food
Marites Dela Cruz, Barangay Council for the Protection of Children social worker, says that many thefts in the area are committed by children aged 10-17 years old.
However, she found this particular case alarming because the youngest suspect was only four years old. She further said that stealing is usually a sign of a serious emotional problem.
According to Aine Gonzaga, a psychologist, children at this age have yet to develop a sense of right and wrong.
Unlike adults, young children cannot be held fully accountable for their actions. Their parents are responsible for them and should teach them what they can and cannot do.
In some places in Manila, children learn to steal not because they really want to but because it is more practical to steal--many do not have enough money to spare for snacks.
When they go hungry and they cannot afford to buy food, they think of other ways to fill in their stomachs.
Unfortunately, their choices are often limited; and also due to peer pressure, they opt for easier, though illegal, means to get what they need.
Marietta decided to forgive the children and forget about the inconvenience they caused her.
She did not ask the parents to pay back the amount of goods stolen from her. In return, the parents vowed to watch over their children more closely and teach them the value of honesty.
Aired on December 25, 2012