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Keeping Parks Safe and Vandalism Free

Keeping Parks Safe and Vandalism Free

With many schools’ winter-break vacation coming up, it is important for children to have safe vandalism free park activities that keep them occupied while out of school. For parents, it’s also important that they know their children are safe while they’re at work or running daily errands. These out of school programs are offered and take place at many public park and recreation centers throughout the United States.

A parent’s concern for the well-being of their children while these activities are taking place is often their “number one” priority.

It is of extreme importance, then, that the environment in which these programs are run is considered a safe environment. Vandalized play equipment and graffiti both create a physical and emotional hazard that can harm children enrolled in these programs. Destruction of playground equipment can easily harbor unseen, potential threats to child safety, while graffiti creates an atmosphere of criminal gang activity that can lead to further instances of vandalism. Graffiti can also lead to a child’s perception that their park is unsafe and that no one seems to care about their well-being. These emotions can cause depression and anxiety for the children that experience these types of destructive behavior occurring in their parks.

With the well-being of children in mind, we need to give them the gift of safety this holiday season and ensure the continuance of these out of school programs for all to enjoy and feel safe.

High Cost of Graffiti

High Cost of Graffiti

Most major metropolitan cities in the U.S. are constantly dealing with the problem of graffiti. The issue of graffiti could possibly promote a false perception that the laws protecting public and private property can be blatantly disregarded, resulting in an increase in crime, urban decay, and detriment to the enjoyment of life. These acts of graffiti, if not cleaned, repaired or deterred in a timely manner, can also give way to additional unwanted markings in the surrounding area.

 

Instances of graffiti are most often the result of various gangs posting the physical limits of their “turf”. These publicly displayed messages also serve as a type of warning to other rival gangs to stay out of their neighborhood.  These messages usually incur further graffiti from the would-be rivals. Other acts of graffiti are of the so-called underground “street art” scene, whose canvasses blanket public and private property with various designs or murals intended to be seen by the public. Both types of graffiti, however, involve the same level of criminal charges and consequences, despite their dissimilar intent.

 

Each year, cities are faced with this crime challenge, and it costs cities unspeakable amounts.  Take for instance the city of San Francisco, which spends more than $20 million to clean up graffiti found on public property. In 2017 alone, the San Francisco Public Works department responded to approximately 35,398 service requests involving instances of graffiti, and that number is expected to climb by the end of 2018.

 

Because the crime of graffiti is such a large problem, San Francisco city-council members recently passed an anti-graffiti ordinance requiring property owners to clean up graffiti on their property within thirty days. If this time frame isn’t met, those property owners face stiff fines for violating the statutes outlined in the ordinance, further adding to the overall cost incurred by graffiti abatement.

 

Graffiti costs cities and property owners high amounts of both dollars and resources, which could be used to help the community instead.

Initials carved in tree

Vandalism in Parks

Violence is not a term restricted to an unjust act against humans. Parks and other public beauty can be subject to cruel, undeserved vandalism, thus making them victims of “cultural violence” (National Parks Service-https://www.nps.gov/articles/vandalism-hurts.htm).

A form of defacing that natural parks often experience is graffiti. Some call it a form of art, but park officials find the offense to be very expensive to remove and challenging to restore the parks back to its natural beauty, “graffiti is vandalism, and is extremely difficult to remove. Repair of vandalized sites, if possible, is costly and time consuming, and often cannot restore the site to its former condition” (National Parks Service-https://www.nps.gov/articles/vandalism-hurts.htm). Even more so, Fox News recently reported from Zion National Parks that rocks and other natural features will not recover fully from vandalism such as spray paint, regardless of how much it is cleaned (Fox News, Salt Lake City- https://fox13now.com/2018/06/17/zion-national-park-reminds-visitors-vandalism-is-not-art/). They remind people that “vandalism is not art.”

Defacing, damaging or painting any part of public parks is a form of vandalism and is illegal. Parks are for the appreciation of nature and the enjoyment of others. When parks are vandalized, it harms the earth and it ruins the experience of visitors. Care for the earth and protect your parks.

Nuisance crimes bring the Park’s responsibilities to a full swing and winning the battle against crimes like vandalism and graffiti is a must.

Parks – Fight Against Nuisance Crimes

Nuisance crimes bring the Park’s responsibilities to a full swing and winning the battle against crimes like vandalism and graffiti is a must.  Keeping the graffiti and vandalism away rather than cleaning up is more effective. Once the crime has been committed and the community knows about it, the park is marked as no longer safe.

Nuisance crimes that plague the parks are very disheartening to the community, affecting those that would like to enjoy the parks.  Nobody wants to go to a park that is riddled with graffiti on the playground or the sidewalks and walls.  Graffiti creates an atmosphere that people are not welcome, this territory is claimed, and people who come here are not safe.  Likewise, Vandalism generates a surrounding of abandonment and neglect, which can also cause a feeling that the area is not safe.

The parks are important to the community.  In a NRPA parks survey conducted by Penn State University, Americans cherish their local public park and the community wants a park that they can escape to, away from the everyday mundane routine.  Whether it is biking, walking the dog or taking the kids to the playground, people need to feel safe. People will not use the parks if it does not put out a feeling of safety.

Parks Directors and Rangers know the importance of parks.  The responsibility of keeping the parks safe is huge and heavy.  The tools are what gives the Parks Department the upper edge against nuisance crimes.  Surveillance can watch but does not stop crimes.  The Parks Department needs tools that stop the crimes from happening in the first place.

Don’t let the gloom and doom bring your deterrence efforts to a slow down.  With students exiting the schools by the droves, now is the time to get into full gear.  Mischief is just around the corner, are you ready with the right tools to deter?