No graffiti tonight

Stop School Graffiti

Over the Christmas weekend, a school in Bundaberg Australia experienced graffiti on their walls.  The vandals painted “tags and vulgar language” with flares on the side of the school building. Bundaberg‘s relieving officer-in-command, Glen Cameron, states, “Over the school holidays police actively increase their patrols in these areas in an attempt to prevent offences like this occurring.” Graffiti in schools does not just occur in a vacuum. If police increased their patrols, what are locals doing in stopping school graffiti?

“But assistance from members of the public goes a long way to preventing antisocial behavior in and around school grounds.”, says Cameron. The police can only do so much. They enforce the law and prevent nuisance crimes as much as their resources and tools allow them, but vandalism in schools is a social problem that communities need to address.  Preventing “antisocial behavior” could lead to preventing vandalism in schools.

The fact that “vulgar language” is being sprayed on school property asks two questions. Why is the language vulgar? And why does it happen on school grounds? Teenagers can be rebellious and sometimes antisocial toward society, but who sets their boundaries? They do, but initially boundaries  start at the home. Vulgar language is probably used by their friend groups and local communities. Once “vulgar language” is spoken, usually others copy.

The next question is why at a school? The school gives them homework, has rules, and has authority. Vandals probably don’t like authority, and the school becomes the perfect target. These antisocial crimes do not just occur without reason. Being anti-authoritative could be one of the causes. The Center for Police-Oriented Policing says graffiti sprayers are usually associated with other illegal activity. There is a culture that goes along with graffiti spraying, and usually, it is not positive.

The police of Bundaberg urge the community to contact the police if anyone sees suspicious activity around the schools. Why didn’t anyone contact them? Did no one see them? That could be true, but part of being a community is being aware of suspicious activity. Communities around the globe should be actively setting consistent boundaries and be aware of unusual local activity. Seeking ways to create a culture that stops school graffiti can be hard, but should be done, because it starts with “assistance” from the community.

Graffiti Girl

The Fight Against Blight – The Graffiti Problem

Everyone knows the graffiti problem exists.  Graffiti is seen on the walls of stores, schools, parks, and public signs.  Some people believe graffiti is a form of Art, an expression of the mind.  And although at times, the pictures can be considered to be done by a talented person, it violates the communities who are forced to endure it.  It is a blight to our community.

When a tree or plant is infected with blight, it withers away and dies.  Just like the effects of a fungus or a disease of a plant, communities become sick and infected by the blight of graffiti vandals.

Graffiti vandals steal the public places and don’t care that it offends people, costs businesses money, or brings down the homeowners property value.  According to the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Office of Community Beautification spent more than seven million dollars a year on removing graffiti.  Seven Million can be used to help a lot of people.  Some would say, “leave the graffiti, it does not hurt anyone.” But the graffiti problem brings more crime.  This is one of the reasons graffiti brings down the property values, more crime. People don’t feel safe in an area with graffiti, because they know there is more crime.  Graffiti suggests less police activity or permissive police patrol.  Removing the Graffiti is important, but graffiti prevention would be better. Stopping the graffiti problem before it happens would be ideal.


Graffiti Prevention Friend or Foe?

Graffiti is sprayed at millions of locations every day. Graffiti comes out in different ways such as: gang graffiti, tagger graffiti, conventional graffiti, and ideological graffiti. Graffiti usually happens in urban environments on public and private property. In many cases, graffiti is seen as acceptable urban art, and not a problem. However, Center for Problem-Oriented Policing (POP Center) disagrees and says that graffiti is indeed a problem, and believes there needs to be methods on how to stop graffiti vandalism.  The reason graffiti prevention is not important for some is because the problem is not important enough.

Some people do not report graffiti or see a need to prevent it because they do not see it as “real crime” problem, or they believe the police know how to stop graffiti vandalism. The media has elevated and promoted graffiti as an “acceptable form of urban street art”. Famous graffiti artists like Banksy have developed huge recognition, and people love the ideological images he produces. Graffiti is not seen as a problem because they are not aware of the problem it produces.

A single or few incidents of graffiti may not seem as problems, but graffiti accumulates. An area that was sprayed with graffiti seems to attract more graffiti. The motives of the graffiti offenders vary, but all offenders do graffiti so others can see their message or art. Because graffiti offenders want recognition, graffiti spreads to more than one area like a virus or disease.

Graffiti is usually targeted on public property.  The national annual cost for monitoring, detecting, removing, and repairing graffiti damage is estimated to be as high as 15 to 18 billion dollars. A lot of the public sees graffiti as the government not doing its job to enforce laws and protect property. The POP center says that graffiti contributes to loss of ridership on public transit systems, and reduced sales because of decline in property value. Graffiti has a perception that is related to gang activity. In addition, graffiti in itself is not a problem in a vacuum, but other crimes and disorders are related to graffiti.

Graffiti for some may be an art, but for many others graffiti is a problem that negatively affects many neighborhoods and people.  Graffiti may be applauded, but the negative aspects of graffiti out way the good. The public should be aware of these so police and communities can have more of an impact in stopping graffiti vandalism. Graffiti prevention is much needed nationally and is a friend for all.

Graffiti Removal

Is Graffiti Removal a “Band-Aid” Than a Solution?

Cities and parks across the country practice the “rapid removal” method to address their graffiti issues. It is definitely important to quickly remove graffiti as soon as it happens in order to maintain control over the issue and prevent more graffiti from taking place. But is this battle between the taggers and the city’s graffiti removal efforts simply a “band-aid” that is covering up the issue instead of really addressing the problem to stop graffiti?

The Center for Problem-Oriented Policing site on “Response to the Problem of Graffiti”  emphasizes the importance of removing graffiti rapidly as the most promising responses to tackle graffiti. This sends a message to the tagger that their “artwork” won’t last long, and many times “help on many arrests by reporting kids watching the clean-up,” since surprisingly these kids are often times the taggers!

But even with this recommended approach, the POP guide indicates that “many of the methods are time consuming and can be quite expensive.” These efforts may help to revive the park, but it’s not guaranteed that these issues won’t come back. Taking a proactive prevention approach may seem like a challenge at first, but in the long run it can cause less headaches to really stop the problem from coming back.