Using MST and tech-savvy to stop a 14-year-old’s criminal enterprise
Danny was referred to Multisystemic Therapy (MST) for stealing, truancy and verbal aggression at home. The treatment addressed all these problems. One, in particular, took some creative thinking.
At 14, Danny was quite the entrepreneur. Very clever at buying low and selling high, he had a business going where he sold electronics, clothes and high-end sneakers to his friends, to friends of friends and to people out of town who were nobody’s friends. He used online platforms to pay his customers and to get paid.
Sound too good to be true? That’s because it was—the catch was Danny didn’t always obtain the things he sold legally. Sometimes, he stole them. Other times, he used his mom’s credit cards and online identity without permission. His mother was a single mom who worked, with little time to monitor Danny, especially because he often left school to pick up his packages or skipped altogether, returning home once mom had gone to work.
Danny, business savvy as he was, needed to change his stealing and selling ways. That’s where MST stepped in. With the help of an MST therapist, the boy’s mom started to shut down the ways he had to use her credit cards and online identity.
Using tech to fight tech
The therapist described Danny’s mom as a “dream partner.” Early on, she took control by actively increasing her knowledge of what Danny was doing and limiting the ways he could keep his business alive. This was no simple task because neither she nor the therapist were tech-savvy at the beginning. They had to learn everything about all the technical methods needed to stop Danny’s work. They contacted IT services, stopped PayPal and reached out to the different delivery companies. They learned how to spot loopholes and as soon as they found one, close it up. Danny’s mom went a step further and changed her address with the postal service so that no packages would come to the house. She started asking other people, instead of Danny, her technology questions because in the past that had led to new transactions for the businessman.
All this hard work paid off. Danny no longer has access to do the criminal things he used to do. According to Danny’s mom, “Our MST therapist has shown us the way to finding positive paths together in our family.” As for Danny? He says that now, “I think twice about the consequences. In the end, you either choose a criminal way or not.”