Vandalism Emily Todd and SubhaBala
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 public Includes: 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
Definitions • 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 whittlers.
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 participated
Results • 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.
Where? • 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 methods
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 location. Schools with lower rates of vandalism had: • Better aesthetic quality and maintenance • Located in more densely populated areas with higher activity levels • More obstructed view of school property by surrounding residents • 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
Frequency • 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 community?” 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 year In Toronto: 19% indicated that vandalism occurred Outside of Toronto: 14% indicated that vandalism occurred
Costs 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.
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 Subtypes: • 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, 1996). • Absence of formal research in this area • Though they remain largely untested, they are the first step in creative effort
Aesthetic Theory • Enjoyment experienced during the destruction of an object • Investigators have often called it “Wreckcreation” • Pleasure is gained by: Complexity Predictability Novelty Intensity Organization 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 Excalibur
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” -OAPH 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 Toronto.