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Park Vandalism Affects our Community

Park Vandalism Affects our Community

Our community’s public parks were built in order to bring recreation and joy to all who patronize them. Why certain individuals decide to vandalize these wonderful places, we may never fully know. Whether it’s to blow off steam or mindless boredom, the fact remains that our parks are easily accessible to the public, and as such, will continue to be a likely target for would-be vandals. What these vandals obviously do not take into consideration, however, is the toll the consequences of their actions have on the community that enjoys visiting these beautiful places.

In addition to the physical dangers vandalism incurs at our parks, the emotional distress that park patrons suffer upon learning they are victims of this heinous crime is also of serious concern. “The impact of vandalism, as well as other related crime, on victims results in emotional, psychological, physical, financial, social, and spiritual consequences” (National Institute of Mental Health, 2006). Children who frequent parks are inspired to develop their creative imagination and social bonds when they are engaged in what’s known as “free play”. In the event of park closure due to an act of vandalism, children are deprived of this emotional development which can lead to complications such as depression and anxiety in social situations. A child may not fully comprehend how or why someone has vandalized their play area, leading to acting out anger episodes and fits.

When a Virginia Beach park’s playground equipment was vandalized with derogatory sayings in January of 2015, children who had regularly enjoyed the park were visibly upset by the act. Izabella Garcia told ABC news, “It makes me feel uncomfortable to be on the swings and look at what they wrote. It just makes me feel like I shouldn’t be there.” Izabella mentioned that it makes her not want to play there anymore, which shows firsthand the distress vandalism causes to children.

Parks that suffer from recurrent vandalism may be perceived by community members that neighborhood crime is on the rise, causing fear, mistrust, and anxiety towards other residents. This type of personal isolation leaves a community more susceptible and vulnerable to further crime and acts of violence. Forcing the neighborhood in which one lives down a dark road of crime and urban decay. 

It is important the parks departments deter these nuisance crimes to prevent the emotional distress these crimes cause the community.

Social Media: Weapon to Combat Vandalism

Social Media: Weapon to Combat Vandalism

How can Social Media help combat Vandalism?  This is a good question. According to Wikipedia, Social Media is defined as “interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas…”

Unfortunately, the crime of vandalism is an all too common occurrence. It seems to happen everywhere including our schools, public parks, and in our own communities. When vandalism is committed, it is most often done late at night when there is less likelihood that the suspect, or suspects, will be seen or caught. Because little, if any, evidence is left behind, suspect leads are rarely ever followed up and communities are left holding the bill for the damages caused by vandalism.

Vandalism is a crime that’s cumulative. If an area that has been hit by vandalism is not quickly repaired or cleaned, further recurrences of vandalism are more likely to befall the same area. The only means of stopping vandalism completely, is by preventing its occurrence in the first place.

Today, many municipalities are turning to technology and the use of social media sites, such as Next-Door and Facebook, to educate the rest of the public when acts of vandalism occur. Pictures of recently vandalized neighborhoods are posted on social media sites in an effort to gather information from the public. Local law enforcement authorities use these photos as well as the information provided by the public as evidence, while vigilantly seeking out and successfully prosecuting those individuals suspected of committing acts of vandalism.

Photos of suspects taken by specialized vandalism cameras are used in conjunction with social media to identify suspects and to capture footage of the act to be used as evidence in prosecution cases brought before the court. This use of technology also fills the gap as a preventative measure when the public is informed by social media sites that vandalism cameras are being used.

This coordination of technology and social media is quickly becoming the first line of defense in combating vandalism, as it helps protect our communities as well as our individual well-being.

Social Media is effective because information of the vandalism occurrence and the pictures of the suspect are shared with the community very quickly.  Because the citizens care about their community, information is then shared quickly with the authorities who follow through with prosecution.

Social Media in use with specialized vandalism cameras is a great weapon to combat vandalism in your community.

How to Deter Vandalism in Park Restrooms

How to Deter Vandalism in Park Restrooms

Vandalism in Park Restrooms is a prevalent problem. Unfortunately, public restrooms are often the focus of many vandals, who are intent on committing defacement.  Restrooms become the target because they are usually placed away from public traffic and isolated.  Due largely in part to the low risk of being caught, graffiti on the walls and damage to toilets and the restroom facility hardware are among the objects most commonly affected.

 

Due to safety reasons, many parks close vandalized restrooms in order to avoid injury and facilitate repairs. Park Rangers know closed restrooms can cause a feeling of frustration by park patrons who may need to use the restroom area. The best option is deterrence.  Stop the Vandalism before it happens.

 

Here are some deterrent highlights to implement:

 

  1. Lighting– Secure the area with bright lights. Bright lights are a vandal’s worst enemy. Lighting installed in areas that may otherwise be dark does well to help prevent acts of vandalism from occurring.
  2. Unbreakable Fixtures and Hardware– Apply security glass over light fixtures and hard to break accessories in the restroom.
  3. Locks and Fencing- Install locks and fencing. Well strategized locks and fencing eliminates a vandal’s ability to enter the restroom after the park has closed.
  4. Vandalism Deterrent Cameras– Properly placed Vandalism Deterrent Cameras near problem areas combined with signs informing the public of their use has been proven to prevent acts of vandalism. Vandalism Deterrent Cameras- Talk, shine a bright light, take pictures for prosecution and make their presence known. Behavior modification at its best.

 

Applying these steps will protect public bathrooms and save frustrations and funds from ongoing repairs.

 

 

Vandalism at city owned and maintained parks occurs all too often

Vandalism Costs Parks

Vandalism at city owned and maintained parks occurs all too often. The various aftermath effects incurred from this type of crime delve deeper than what is on the surface. The effect that strikes the hardest is the cost of repair due to vandalism.

Playground equipment can cost as much as $150,000.

Without the proper funds to repair vandalized playground equipment, child safety comes into question and the area where the damage has occurred will have to be closed to the public. Vandalized maintenance equipment can cost thousands of dollars to repair and the park cannot be properly maintained. Due to the already tight budgets allocated to city parks, it can take weeks or months before a park can be reopened to be enjoyed by the public once again.

When vandalism befalls one of our national parks, the consequences can prove disastrous. Fragile ecosystems can be rendered unrepairable from illegal dumping or littering, causing lakes and streams to become polluted. Natural rock formations and caves adorned with much graffiti are beautiful no more. When these gorgeous areas are defaced, it costs everyone, as they are meant to be enjoyed by all. Money spent to repair a vandalized national park would be better spent to improve their natural beauty and a park patron’s experience.

It is important to try to prevent park assets from being vandalized. These assets often include playground equipment, trashcans, restroom facilities, tables and benches, and recreational structures. All these items can cost quite a bit to repair or replace.  Prevention, crime deterrent methods, are better than repair and replace. We must do what is in our power to keep our beautiful parks open for all to enjoy.