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Preventing school vandalism is a complex problem because vandalism results from a number of different causes. You must take a multifaceted approach in order to prevent property damage from different groups. In most cases, it is students who damage property, and this problem can often be dealt with by promoting a strong connection to the school. When school vandalism is due to malice or unknown perpetrators, physical barriers can sometimes prevent damage to the school building. The best way to prevent property damage is to find out how and why it is occurring and develop a strategy tailored to the situation.
One of the most common types of school vandalism involves students damaging school buildings for fun or to impress their peers. Sometimes, this type of vandalism can be overcome by promoting a strong connection to the school within the student body. Students who love and respect their school do not vandalize buildings. A good strategy for this type of vandalism, particularly if it is expressive rather than a promotion of violence, is to allow students to create a mural of their own design in the area that is frequently vandalized. This creates an interest within the student body in keeping the new design free from vandalism.
School vandalism can also be a problem with smaller pieces of property, including desks and lockers. In these cases, it can often be much easier to determine who has actually perpetrated the crime. Individuals may be reprimanded, and setting up a system of accountability may discourage others from doing the same. It is also important to reward good behavior with verbal praise or even prizes. This can make small instances of school vandalism much more rare.
When property damage is a problem because of outside influences or as an act against the school, the only solution possible may be security. Security officers, recording devices, and physical barriers may help protect the school, but in order for these to be successful, there must also be punishments for those who damage the school. Vandalism is a serious crime, and prosecution of criminals may help deter additional incidents.
Research is often the key to solving problems with school vandalism. Students are often receptive to discussions about vandalism as long as they are not accusatory. Simply asking students why they think the damage is happening can be enough to solve the problem, particularly when the discussion is framed in a way that makes it clear that students are hurting themselves with school vandalism.
I remember when I was in high school there was an outbreak of bathroom vandalism. It was a pretty nice private school and in general we did not have problems with vandalism. But one year graffiti started showing up in the bathrooms.
Almost as soon as it started an all school assembly was called and the principal spoke to all the students. He got furious! At one point he even called us gutless. It was pretty intense at the time but the speech worked. The graffiti stopped as soon as it started.
So I don't want to say that screaming at people is the best strategy, but maybe taking a hard line and setting clear consequences. People can be scared straight.
This is a tricky question. As the article notes, school vandalism happens for lots of reasons. I think that with this, like most things, prevention is the best measure. Try to create conditions where people don't want to vandalize the school.
I think this mostly involves maintaining a positive relationship with the students. If they feel acknowledged and respected and do not absolutely dread going to school they will be much less likely to damage school property. Keeping kids happy is no small task, but if they genuinely respect their school they will hesitate to vandalize it.
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