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Keeping Parks Safe from Vandalism

Keeping Parks Safe from Vandalism

Childhood obesity is an issue many parents are currently facing in the United States. The answers many parents are considering include a multitude of after-school programs geared toward helping children stay fit and active. Sports, such as baseball or soccer, often take place in local community parks and/or recreation centers. Because the park hosts many different exercise programs, a vandalized park can easily leave children, as well as parents, with the feeling that their environment is unsafe.

Instances of graffiti vandalism at a community park can often incite further gang-related crime, and more recurrences of graffiti, if not quickly abated. The appearance of this type of negative, criminal element can easily scare a child and parent alike, naturally leaving parents with the notion that the park environment is unsafe for their child’s activity to take place.

The unsafe environment that a vandalized park alludes to leaves children with the inability to enjoy their recreation or activity of choice, causing a void that physical activity would normally displace. This type of inactivity only furthers the problem of childhood obesity and can easily lead to depression or other psychological malaise after a child’s beloved neighborhood park has been closed due to vandalism. Many parents are also circumspect about having their children play in the unsafe environment of a recently vandalized park.

Because safe parks are an integral component to helping curb childhood obesity, it is important to do our best to manage a means of prevention, keeping our parks free from things like graffiti and vandalism; allowing children to dutifully engage in safe and active recreation.  The National Recreation and Park Association, (NRPA) lists out guidelines on evaluating the park’s safety and the implementation of factors to create a safe park.  Some crucial conditions were, good maintenance, good lighting, enforced rules, and surveillance

What is your Parks Department doing to keep your park safe from Vandalism?

Prevent Vandalism in Park Bathrooms

Prevent Vandalism in Park Bathrooms

Restrooms are frequently vandalized in parks, because restrooms are usually private and there exists little chance of a restroom vandal being caught in the act of committing the crime. Acts of vandalism most often occur in situations where there is less civilian oversight, and thus, less of a likelihood of being caught.

After a park’s public restroom is vandalized, the sight of such a circumstance can have a negative psychological effect on people using the facility. Emotions triggered can often include feeling unsafe and dirty.  The facility is now labeled in the mind as unsanitary, neglected and unkept.

Instances of graffiti, one of the most common forms of vandalism, often experiences further recurrences if not quickly and thoroughly abated.  The cost of repairs due to vandalized restrooms can exceed tens of thousands of dollars and cause closures of the facility, often resulting in frustrated patrons who visit the park. The cost of repairs due to a vandalized park restroom causes budget cuts elsewhere, and leaves very little, if any, funding for regular, routine park maintenance.

If a public park restroom falls victim to an act of vandalism, repairs and a lack of routine maintenance and cleaning can leave the restroom facility in a state of neglect. This type of negligence can result in a restroom facility becoming extremely unsanitary and can often harbor diseases such as hepatitis A, as well as various viruses including shigellosis and streptococcus. Illnesses from viruses, like shigellosis and hepatitis A, are very severe and are common in unclean public restrooms.

With public park restroom vandalism being such a widespread occurrence, a means for preventing instances of vandalism are paramount in avoiding the costs associated with the crime.  Vandalism Cameras strategically placed deter negative behavior and prevent the costs incurred which include equipment repair, park closure, and the health of those people who enjoy the park.

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.

Playground

Stop Park Vandalism

It is hard to believe that in this generation with all the education on protecting the environment and recycling that the graffiti problem and leaving trash at public parks even exists.  According to the Saint George News, Hurricane, jumping rocks located in Sand Hollow State Park, had to be closed for clean up due to accumulated trash and graffiti.  Sand Hollow State Park is a beautiful park with large rock and sandstone formations that are part of the Sand Hollow Reservoir.  The Sandstone formations are beautiful natural art pieces that sit on the water’s edge. The assistant park manager, Darren Tucker, indicated the area is being “marred by littering, graffiti, things being thrown into the water even.”   It is hard to believe this happened. Who would mar this beautiful area?

And yet,  today more and more of our National Parks are getting tagged and marred. If our society is to leave a better world for the next generation, we need to do more than clean up after the fact.  Cleaning the graffiti introduces chemicals to the area which affects the air quality and the water, due to run off.  The chemicals could also enter and contaminate the in-ground water.  As the left behind trash sits in the sun, chemicals are released.  Our society needs to do better.

As a society what can we do? The Los Angeles Police Department has listed several ways an individual can help their community. Several to note are education, clean up, reporting and protecting. As most offenders are young, the LAPD encourages the public to volunteer in areas that educate the young that vandalism, which includes graffiti and illegal trash dumping, is a crime.  Volunteering also encourages the young to use their time for valuable moments rather than doing something that is hurtful to the community.  It is important we make our parks a priority.  What are some ways you can help stop graffiti and vandalism in our parks?