School vandalism down but still a problem
By Gary McKenna – The Tri-City News [British Columbia] – June 15, 2008
Smashed windows and graffiti continue to frustrate school district cleanup crews but the number of incidents of vandalism is down from last year.
While vandalism continues to be a problem, Jim Dueck, SD43’s manager of minor renovations, said the district has made strides in combating the problem.
“We are 200 windows below last year’s level since January,” he said. “Graffiti is about the same as last year, with maybe a slight increase.”
Those numbers could change as the end of the school year approaches, with the grad and summer party scene in full-swing — and warm weather coming.
“Right now we are into the grad pranks,” he said. “Some of the schools that have been hit have been hit pretty bad.”
He mentioned Dr. Charles Best secondary and Terry Fox secondary as examples of schools that had been recently vandalized.
Tim Kelly, executive director of Vandal Watch, said when buildings are left vacant, they can invite trouble. Since Lincoln elementary closed 11 months ago, 14 windows have been broken on the property.
As schools empty out for the summer, Kelly fears incidents of vandalism could spike. “When a school shuts down, it certainly changes the neighbourhood dynamics,” Kelly said.
But increases in the number of broken windows or sprayed walls do not always rise in July and August, Dueck said. He points out that after the graduation period ends, the number of vandalism incidents can often level off for the duration of the summer.
Once September rolls around, however, some students may show their displeasure with going back to school by smashing a window or spray-painting a wall.
And all it takes is one major act of vandalism to send the statistics skyrocketing upwards.
“There are some times when we will get 20 windows broken at one place, so it spikes a bit,” he said. “But it rarely ever happens at the same school twice.”