Editorial: Miscreants will be miscreants

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As most people in the community are aware, a quiet little Morinville neighbourhood got blanketed with graffiti last week, a collection of slogans, phrases and symbols related to hip hop, heavy metal, and horror movie culture. For those of you unaware, we have a full story here.

The senseless act of vandalism (not that there is a sensible act of vandalism) has upset residents of the neighbourhood and Morinvillians as a whole. A perfectly reasonable question many are asking themselves right now: Is my neighbourhood next?

But almost as soon as the last empty spray paint can hit the pavement for police to find the next morning, many in the community began bleating the trumpet of sympathy for the little miscreants. Oh, there is nothing for youth to do here. If only there was something for youth to do, there would be no vandalism. A swimming pool would eradicate vandalism in its entirety. Comments made almost as if people believed that with all those things youth would immediately turn into polite, clean cut characters from some television show from a bygone era.

There are three problems with this train of thought. First, it presumes the vandalism was perpetrated by teenagers. No evidence of that as yet. Second, it fails to recognize that the vast majority of youth in this community are doing quite fine finding things to do. Skate park is full most days, as are the parks, as are the coffee shops. Lastly, it fails to recognize that some young people are simply entitled little miscreants with absolutely no respect for property rights. Is their wonton destruction of private property the fault of a community who has not built them a swimming pool or palatial teen centre? Or is it the fault of parents who have never learned how to say no or set even the most basic of boundaries, including not letting their kids run the streets of Morinville like wandering Tom cats? One answer carries as much clout as the next.

Clearly, vandalism is the work of a select few. We do not have teens rioting in the street in anarchy to demonstrate how bored they are. We have one or a number of people who derive pleasure from wrecking possessions they did not pay for.

Studies have shown crime will escalate in areas where the presence of crime remains. A window left broken, the theory holds, leads to more broken windows and other types of crime. The theory is controversial to be sure, but when the local convenience store leaves graffiti on its north wall for more than a month for all to see, what message does that business send to the community and to the vandals? Is it any surprise that a month later we see more graffiti on the same wall as well as throughout our residential neighbourhoods? One does not have to be police to know the backwards Es on a fence of 97 Avenue and on the side of the local convenience store is likely written by the same paint can-holding hand.

The root causes of vandalism are varied. There is no argument there. But it is time our Community Peace Officers enforced this Community Standards Bylaw, or at least the part about covering up graffiti. Let’s cut the poor home owner some slack in performing the work they are now forced to do. But let us not tolerate any longer businesses leaving vandalism for several weeks at a time with no visible signs they ever intend to cover it up.

Perhaps if we as a community started covering up the graffiti a little quicker, there might be a little less of it. To do otherwise sends the message that we do not mind our buildings being decorated by scofflaws in the middle of the night.

-SD

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4 Comments

  1. Very nicely said. I fully agree with everything. I know I will be doing a little more after hours bike riding with a keen eye for Tom cats.

  2. Cover it up to provide the canvas once again….not sure this will solve the issue! Leaving it for a few weeks is the outrage in this note? And assuming parents leave their children to roam the streets like wild Tom cats! Really?! Perhaps we should consider that those who have performed such unsightly acts are completely to blame. The individuals do know it is a form of vandalism, plain and simple. Perhaps they have a great upbringing and don’t lack structure and rules. Sure we can clean the mess up quickly just as we do with a toddler who experiments tossing their meal on the floor off the high chair. The parent cleans up the mess and provides another meal, and the game begins. My message is simple, put the word out. Make those accountable for their actions and have them clean up their own mess, but not cater to their idea of a good time.

    I’d also like to add, a pool would have been a wonderful thing for this town! Possibly bring real revenue rather than debt! Therefore, i don’t completely disagree with those who claim it would give teens something to do. Imagine that, a healthy place to stay active….what a concept. I sigh….

  3. Having Peace Officers hand out Bylaw infraction tickets to those hit by vandalism and graffiti simply victimizes the homeowner/businessperson twice. Once by the vandals and then again by a bureaucracy seeking funds..

    If there is sufficient money to hire a “safety” protocol such as photo radar, perhaps there is the ability to assist homeowners/businesses in covering up graffiti. In fact, if the purpose of photo radar is safety and not a “cash cow” the funds from that could be directed to such an endeavour. Provided the work isn’t done under the same terms of contract as the work on the Town Offices. That didn’t go quite right at all.

  4. I’m thinking this act of vandalism isn’t a safety issue but more of a disrespect issue. There is this thing called community service which can be used as a form of punishment for crimes like this. I think it’s a great way to get those involved onto a better track in life.

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