Eighty Five percent of public schools recorded one or more crime incidents took place at school property during the 2009–10 school year. That’s an estimated 1.9 million crimes according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, with a majority of said crimes being graffiti and vandalism. Vandalism is a big problem, not just for schools, but for public places in general. Able to cause minor amounts of damage, like pencil marks on walls, to defacing millions of dollars of art.
Vandalism dates back to the French Revolution where it was coined as “vandalisme” as a form of defacing art to conquer the rich. Art was seen as something that only those with money could have, so naturally, the poor destroyed it to show that the Third Estate was even with the rest. According to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, “Vandalism permits powerless individuals to strike out against the institutions which control them and to take charge of the situation themselves, arousing fear in others and raising their own self-esteem,” psychologists of today deem that one one of the main causes of is a personal frustration towards one’s own lack of power. “I think nine times out of ten, not one hundred percent, but nine times out of ten,” Lancto guesses, “Understand that what they did was out of stupidity, frustration, or was a joke among friends.”
At Grandville High School, the bathrooms have had their fair share of vandalism, from the walls of the stalls to the walls all over, ranging from minor damage to enough damage to prevent a senior’s graduation walk. One of the bigger forms of prevention started by the school was the recent (as of last year) GRIT initiative that challenges students to be better than the bare minimum and as of this year, there haven’t been many cases of vandalism around the school. A part of the reason GRIT was started because of the students of Grandville. Many students around the school wanted to see change around the school for the better. Mr. Inman, a GHS counselor, claims that “We believe in the message GRIT as well, it’s something the school has kind of adopted.”
The good news is that fortunately those who feel the need to release pent up frustrations on bathroom walls are by far the minority of the school’s population. As a school with a pretty minimal bullying issue not many feel the need to “bully others with what they write on walls because they are afraid to say it to someone”s face,” as Mr. Karpowicz so aptly puts it. In fact some of the “artwork” done by students may actually inflate the viewed problem as some of them are simply repeat offenders. Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Lancto, two senior staff at GHS, tell two separate stories of repeat offenders and it’s to be sure that they are not the only ones because, sadly, there will always be that one time out of ten that don’t learn the lesson in the first or second place.
Students can do their part around the school, by serving as a role model by not doing it, wiping it off when they can, or by anyone they witness vandalising. Speak up and make it known to everyone in the community that the school is everyone’s property so it should be cared for and not destroyed. Mr. Kennedy, assistant principal, claims that “these are people who may not feel connected in some way, or feel some sense of communal ownership,” if this is indeed the case then they should be informed that they are connected, so that they hopefully do feel some sort of ownership for their house of education.