VANDALISM by yaosaigeng



Emily Todd and Subha Bala
Examples of Vandalism
                  What is Vandalism?
• Vandalism ranges from dropping a small piece of litter on the
  street, to arson and other blatant acts
• Unsightly and can in some instances be dangerous to the
  Dumping of refuse
  Smashing of windows and bus shelters
  Fouling of pavements and green spaces
  Abandoned vehicles
  Interference with road signs
  Graffiti
                 Downsizing Deviance
• Increase in drug sale and use, gangs, fights, weapons etc
• Vandalism failed to take centre stage
• Viewed as low level of aggression
• An intentional act aimed at damaging or destroying an object
  that is another's property" (Moser, 1992)

• A voluntary degradation of the environment with no profit
  motive whatsoever, the results of which are considered
  damage by the actor(s) as well as the victim in relation to the
  norms that govern the situation" (Goldstein, 1996, p. 19).

• “The willful or malicious destruction, injury, disfigurement, or
  defacement of property without the consent of the owner"
  (Casserly, Bass, & Garrett, 1982, p. 4).
Definitions Cont…
• Intentionality

• Destructiveness

• Property ownership
                   Cohen (1974)
• The illegal destruction or defacement of property belonging to
  someone else does not invariably lead to its classification as
  the deviant act of vandalism.

 He had three exceptions:
• Ritualism
• Protection
• Play
• Writing off
• Walling-In
                Pit and Zube (1991)

• Defined vandalism as “otherwise acceptable behaviour in an
  inappropriate context” (p.103).
  For ex: society carefully preserves the cliff inscriptions of American
  Indians, marvels at human made tunnel cut through a giant
  sequoia tree etc. However, they get angry when rock outcrops are
  defaced by spray paint artists or trees initialed by knife wielding
      Christensen and Clark (1978)
• Helped to distinguish the difference between vandalistic and
  depreciative behaviour

• Depreciative is unintended
• Vandalism implies:
 Intent
 Awareness
 Responsibility
      New Definition of Vandalism
• Vandalism is an intentional act of destruction or defacement of
  property not one’s own
             Why study Vandalism?
•   To understand the reasons why people vandalize
•    Look at the motivation, rewards and punishments
•   If ignored, then vandalism will continue and increase
•   Frequent in places like schools, neighbourhoods, parks etc.
•   Costly phenomenon
•   If encouraged, criminal behaviour may increase
                   The Vandal
• More likely to be male than female, white than non-white
• No difference between economic backgrounds
• Instances of vandalism generally peak around grade 7 and
  begins to decrease after that
• Often a child who has been suspended or has been in
  detention, who feels they were treated unfairly
• Young people who commit acts of vandalism often feel
  public property belongs to no one
 Study: Sex differences and the motivation
 to destroy. Walter, Houston Clark (1952)
This study was asked the following questions:
• Is there fundamentally any difference between girls and boys in
  tendency to destroy property?
• What originates and motivates such acts?
• Has this urge any creative implications?

90 undergraduate students in psychology and education
• Boys are more destructive than girls
• The enjoyment of excitement, the stimulus of a crowd
  situation and the expression of aggression were the motives
  for which the respondents seemed most aware.
• Boys were more vigorous, bold, and less inhibited than the
  girls in their destructive escapes.
• Several respondents mentioned enjoyment of the act itself,
  which suggests that the urge to destroy may be closely
  associated with the urge to create.
•   Mainly Schools
•   Highways
•   Neighbourhoods
•   Davis (1971) stated University libraries in 1960’s
•   In the U.S- growing damage to the National Parks and
    Campsite grounds

• Vandalism is not just urban phenomenon, there is an increase
  in vandalism on farms, and in rural areas.
        The Ecology of Vandalism:
           Context and Target
• The settings that promote, or at least frequently associated
  with, the occurrence of vandalism
• The specific targets of such behaviours
• All acts of aggression are person-environment events
                 School Vandalism
Vandalism is usually known to be high in school settings.
• Firm but fair administration
• Inconsistent or weak administrative support and follow
  through (Casserly et al, 1980)
• Impersonal, unresponsive, non participatory, over regulated,
  oppressive, etc
• High teacher turnover rates (Leftwich, 1977)
• Lack of interest/ middle class bias/ overuse of punitive control
              Low School Vandalism
• Pablant and Baxter (1975) compared 16 pairs of schools with
  either high or low rates of vandalism and matched them
  within each pair for size, ethnic composition, grade level and
Schools with lower rates of vandalism had:
• Better aesthetic quality and maintenance
• Located in more densely populated areas with higher activity
• More obstructed view of school property by surrounding
• Better illuminated neighborhood areas
• School vandalism is correlated with community crime levels
     When Does Vandalism Occur?
More likely to occur:
• After school hours
• Nights
• Weekends
• Vacation period
• Later in the school week or later in the year
• Halloween
• Graduation time and end of school year
• First warm day of spring
• Many acts are under reported
• Difficulty in defining vandalism
• Only 3-4% acts of vandalism are prosecuted
• People who are responsible for the property are known to
  under report
• Coffield (1991) stated that many do not report because it is
  seen as trivial, or the police may not do anything about it.
   Studies by Coffield and Sturman
Coffield and Sturman
• Statistics on vandalism may look like they are objective,
   accurate and convincing but are actually patchy, imprecise
   and misleading
Sturman (1978)
• Vandalism across a number of public locations was shown to
   be 14-15 times greater than what was reported to the police.
                Prevalence of Vandalism
• The Ontario Task Force on Vandalism investigated public
  opinion regarding vandalism
• When asked, “Is vandalism a serious problem in your
 37% of Toronto residents said it was a problem
 56% residing outside of Toronto thought vandalism was a
  problem (1981, p.25)
 67% of the Toronto residents polled believed that vandalism
  has increased over the previous five years.
Wiesenthal, David.L. (1990). Psychological aspects of vandalism.
Prevalance Cont….
• In an Ontario survey of secondary school students, only half
  described vandalism as either “quite” or “very” serious
• In an Ontario Task Force telephone survey, respondents were
  asked if they had been victimized by vandalism in the previous
 In Toronto: 19% indicated that vandalism occurred
 Outside of Toronto: 14% indicated that vandalism occurred
Monetary costs
• Supervision of the workers doing the repair work
• Transporting workers and materials to the job site
• The replacements cost of equipment
• The security investigation of the act

In school setting:
• Destruction of valuable and irreplaceable records
• Loss of specialized teaching facilities
• Loss of classroom availability during repairs
Costs Cont…
• Vandalism cost the Toronto Board of Education with 156
  schools 1 million in 1981
• In the first three months of 1981- Mississauga tax payers paid
  $8400 for damages to public parks and $400 slashed seats.
• In Dartmouth, N.S- vandals were responsible for $120,000 of
  damage to six homes in one night.
Costs cont…
Human Costs
Reilly (1978)
• The victim is singled out feeling unsafe and alienated. The
  victim maybe more fearful, hostile and suspicious of strangers
Social Costs
Vestermark & Blauvert (1978)
• Racial slurs spray painted on the school hallways may result in
  the school closing down for a period of time
Social costs in school settings:
• Impact on education.
• Psychological impact on both students and adults
• Disruptiveness of group or intergroup relations.
      Example of Social Cost
 York Students Rally Against Racism

  "This space is ours," Nazareth Yirgalem of the York University Black
  Students' Alliance (YUBSA) told a rally in the Student Centre. "We pay
 enough money to be here. York has to do a better job of protecting us."
   Phrases including "All N- - - - - s must die" and "N - - - - s go back to
    Africa" were found Tuesday on the door of YUBSA's office and an
 adjacent washroom. It was the second such discovery on campus this
                     month, Yirgalem told the crowd.
The vandalism is the latest high-profile crime on the sprawling campus of
Canada's third-largest university. Since September, there have also been
   three sexual attacks and an assault on a Student Centre employee.
Why Vandalize?
           Motivational Typology
Martin (1959,1961) proposed a tripart typology

• Predatory Vandalism
• Vindictive Vandalism
• Wanton Vandalism
                Weinmayr (1969)
• Believed sources of vandalism do not reside in the vandal
  themselves but in the nature and quality of the building, park
  equipment, public facilities and other targets
 Vandalism of overuse
 Conflict vandalism
 Curiosity vandalism
 Leverage vandalism
 Deleterious vandalism
 Irresistible temptation vandalism
No-other-way-to-do-it Vandalism
    Cohen Typology (1971,1974)
Cohen’s typology is frequently utilized and it consists of six
• Acquisitive vandalism
• Tactical vandalism
• Ideological vandalism
• Vindictive vandalism
• Play vandalism
• Malicious vandalism
                   Coffield (1991)
Four motivational bases for vandalism:

•   Financial gain
•   Peer-group pressure
•   Pleasure
•   Excitement
• The typologies that have been set forth were derived through
  speculation, intuition and informal observation (Goldstein,
• Absence of formal research in this area
• Though they remain largely untested, they are the first step in
  creative effort
Formal Theories of Vandalism
                Aesthetic Theory
• Enjoyment experienced during the destruction of an object
• Investigators have often called it “Wreckcreation”
• Pleasure is gained by:
Allen & Greenberger (1978) stated these variable are not only
   central to artistic creation, but to destruction as well.
Aesthetic Theory Cont…
• Allen & Greenberger investigated vandalistic behaviour in
  laboratory context as well as retrospect interview studies of
  actual vandalistic behaviour to support their theory. They
  found that there are three stages to vandalism.
 Before
 During
 After

The expectation or prediction regarding how an object may
   appear after destruction is viewed as:
Eliciting Cue: Stimulate or evoke vandalisms
Discriminative cue: influences target selection
           Destruction and Complexity: An
           Application of Aesthetic Theory
Allen & Greenberger (1978)
Hypothesis: Enjoyment derived from destructive acts is due to the
same stimulus characteristics that determine the enjoyment of aesthetic
experiences: factors like complexity, unexpectedness, or novelty.

Subjects viewed five films depicting panes of glass breaking, ranging from a
wide subjective scale of complexity.

20 undergraduate students:10 female,10 male
• Asked to rate the degree of complexity of the breaking
• Asked to rate how much they would like to break each pane

As predicted, the one they ranked high in their desire to break was
identical to their ranking for complexity
Graffiti in Toronto:
Vandalism or Art?

      Graffiti Alley, Toronto
    City of Toronto Graffiti Bylaw
Defines graffiti as:
“One or more letters, symbols, figures,
etching, scratches, inscriptions, stains, or
other markings that disfigure or deface a
structure or thing, howsoever made or
otherwise affixed on the structure or thing,
but, for greater certainty, does not include
an art mural”

•City will remove graffiti on city owned
buildings, bridges and public parks
•Graffiti writers found in a group of 3 or
more are considered a gang
   Bylaw cont...
 Clean City team:
• For large-scale graffiti clean-up in certain Toronto areas
identified as most visible to the public and experiencing the
most problems
• Toronto Police also introduced Graffiti Eradication Program

Broken Window Theory
(Wilson, Coles, & Kelling, 1982)
• “If acts of vandalism such as broken
windows, graffiti and litter are allowed
to exist and proliferate, more serious
crime, such as rape and murder, are
soon to follow.”

                                           Queen St. and John St.
              Negative Graffiti
• In early 2008 racist graffiti plagued York University
  targeting Jewish, Italian and black people

            Negative Graffiti cont..
• Retaliation to graffiti on the door of York University Black
  Students Alliance saying to “go back to Africa”
                   Austin (2002)
• Graffiti an attempt by ordinary people to make themselves
  seen and to assert their right to the city

                    Avenue Rd. and Foxbar
                        Graffiti Culture
“Some people like to collect stamps, I like to write on walls”
local graffiti artist

             Queen St. W. and Spadina Ave.

                                              Queen St. And Church St.
              Graffiti Alley
• Toronto has annual graffiti festival in July
             Writer’s Thoughts
• Graffiti is expression and free art
• “There are so many paid advertisements we are forced to
  look at around the city, so why not create our own
  messages? It’s our chance to create our own art and views,”
  says Circus, a local writer.
                    Writer’s cont...
• “I think for me, my goal is to invade public spaces and put
  people in check and knock them out of their routine for a
  second and make them look at what else is out there. There
  are actually people willing to paint on surfaces for free
  because they love it. I think to deny that desire is inhuman,”
  says Mentos, a writer (aka graffiti artist) in Vancouver and
              Writer’s cont...
• “A vodka ad can take up 100-square feet of a building or
  the sky but a simple throw-up or tag is considered an
  eyesore and immediately removed”

                                                     Horeshoe Tavern
                             Graffiti Alley
               Enjoyment Theory
Csikszentmihalyi and Larsen (1978)
• vandalism in schools results from combination of three factors:
1. Extrinsic reward and punishment systems have become less
2. Means-end relationship of education has become less
3. ‘Criminal’ activity more fun than school
Enjoyment Theory Cont...
 Flow state
 • Activity seems enjoyable when perceived skills match
    opportunities for action perceived in challenges
 • Flow is impeded when activities lack graduated challenge,
    predictability, feedback and clear goals (also encouraging
 • Lack of such experiences in schools causes students to not
    get intrinsically motivated to take part in them
Enjoyment Theory cont...
• Schools rely heavily on technological solutions to deter
• Alarms, lighting, fencing, video surveillance
• Students perceive the only way to experience control over
  their own behaviours is to break the rules
       Person-Environment Duet
• Impact of the environment on behaviour
• Murray (1938) described behaviour as a joint outcome of both
  the individual’s (person) and environmental need-satisfying
  potential (situation)
• Interactionist position both probabilistic and reciprocal
• Probabilism: Environment neither determines nor merely
  provides possibilities
Person-Environment Cont…
• Determinism: Environment shapes behaviour and the person
  is a passive responder
• Possibilism: Person acts on the environment which provides
  opportunities but does not shape behaviour
• Krupat (1985) dynamic relationship with give and take with
  each part influencing each other
• “We shape our environments and in turn are shaped by them
  in a never-ending cycle of mutual influence”
           Alternative Strategies
        Changing the Physical and Social
• Environment oriented strategies look to alter the physical
  setting, context, or situation in which vandalism might
• School districts, mass transit systems, museums, shopping
  malls, national and provincial parks, etc.: opted for target
  hardening, access controlling, offender deflecting, entry-
  exit screening, surveillance increasing, inducement
  removing, and other similar tactical concretizations of an
  environment-altering intervention strategy as their only
  means to combat vandalism.
Environment Cont…
• Environmental alterations that are used to reduce
  vandalism may also seem like inviting and enjoyable
  challenges to his or her vandalistic skills and thus, increase
  the behaviour (Wise 1982., Zweig & Ducey, 1978).
• Fences around school, graffiti resistant wall surfaces, theft
  proof parking meters, slash-proof bus seats, toughened
  glass, store surveillance cameras etc are seen as
  opportunity and challenging invitations to vandalism
        Environment Cont…
• “upside” of reliance on physical alteration is that designs
innovations may be relevant in deopportunizing vandalism in more
than one way.
(Wiesenthal, 1990)
• Observed that “property damage can be avoided by design elements
   that do more than resist attack; design can be used to subtly steer the
   user away from destruction or defacement” (p.289)
Wise (1982) said that designs
• channel attention away from potentially damaging activities
• to reduce the effect of natural processes (erosion, weathering)
• Reduce/eliminate environmental feedback which reinforce vandalistic
For example: ply wood road signs which “thunk” when hit by a target
   practice bullet, maybe less attractive target than signs made of metals
   which have a louder noise.
               Social Environment
• Social environment: micro and macro levels.
• At the micro, immediate level: the central, socio-ecological
  intervention concept is surveillance, both perceived and
• Vandalism, it is held, is less likely to occur if the potential
  perpetrator believes he/she will be observed and perhaps
                   Porter (1980)
 Developed the Place Defense Model
• Incident-specific Personal- urges citizens when appropriate to
  threaten transgressors and physically stop vandalistic
• Incident-specific appeals to authority- requesting police or
  other authorities to confront transgressors.
• Incident-specific Social Intervention- forming a crime watch
  group or hiring security personnel.
Shaw (1973) with his macro environmental observation on
vandal’s social ecology, noted:
“Vandalism is a rebellion with a cause. To prevent it, we
must combat social indifference, apathy, isolation and the
loss of community, neighborhood and family values. We
must reaffirm the principle that human rights are more
important than property rights, and property rights are
acknowledged by all when all have a share in them.” (p.18)
Intervention and Implementation
    Intervention and Implementation tactics

    Natural Surveillance: Provided by employees, home owners,
    pedestrians, and others going about their daily life activities:
•       Community after-school use
•       Reduced teacher-student ratio
•       Increased number of employees, for example, playground
        supervisors, bus conductors, and teachers
•       Twenty-four-hour custodial staffing
•       Live-in custodian or caretaker
Intervention Cont…
Target Removal
• The physical removal or enhanced inaccessibility of potential
   vandalism targets.

Use of Graffiti dissuaders:
• Teflon, plastic, laminate, fiberglass, or melamine covering
• Rock, cement, slanted siding, or deeply grooved surfaces
• Paint-outs or paint with contrasting colors in patterned surfaces
• Fast-growing wall vines or shrubbery or built wall barriers
• Removal of archaeological art from site to museum
• Nondisclosure of archaeological sites
• Removal of pay phones from high loitering areas
• Removal of corner bus seats, hidden from (driver’s) view.
• Removing windows in school and other buildings
Intervention Cont..
Identifying property: Marking of Potential vandalism targets
• Business logo- Using such logo’s to show that the property
   belongs to someone.
• Organization stencil

Removing Inducements: Physical alteration of vandalism targets
• Rapid repair of damaged property
• Removal of graffiti
• Beautification programs- Ex: possibly painting over graffiti or
• Removal of gates or fences
Intervention Cont…
Rule setting: making explicit or prior statements of
acceptable or unacceptable behaviour.
• Federal Antiquities Act of 1906
• Model Hate Crime Bill
• Prohibition of spray-paint and indelible-marker sales

Education: an effort to educate potential vandals and actual
vandals about vandalism costs, consequences and
• Vandalism education programs.
• Vandalism awareness walks.
• Anti-vandalism films.
• Class-room discussion on reducing vandalism.
• Teacher multicultural sensitivity training.
Intervention Cont…
• Target hardening: using devices to physically block the vandal
  from damaging
• Access control: features to maintain control over ability to
  gain entry
  ex. Limited entrances; locked gates, doors and windows;
  fenced yards; unclimbable trees next to building
Intervention Cont…
• Deflecting offenders: directing potentially criminal aggressive
  behaviour in more prosocial directions
  ex. Graffiti boards and mural programs, interesting wallpaper,
  chalkboard, etc on bathroom walls, steering pathway
  circulation, litter bins
Intervention Cont…
• Controlling facilitators: making means to vandalize less
  available or less damaging
  ex. Controlling spray paint sales, removing debris and litter
  from ground, placing signs and decorative hardware out of
  reach from ground, and fire alarms or thermostats away from
  common hangout areas
• Exit-entry screening: closed-circuit TV; metal, vibration,
  motion detectors, alarm systems
• Formal surveillance: police, guards, monitors, citizen groups

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