School vandalism hits record high
Maria Rantanen, The Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows Times [British Columbia]
Published: Friday, September 05, 2008
The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district spent more than a half-million dollars on repairs in the 2007/08 school year resulting from a record year of vandalism in the school district.
“Vandalism is a community problem,” said Kathie Ward, who is on the anti-vandalism task force. “Hardening the building is one measure — we need that community involvement.”
By the end of the school year, there were 1,248 vandalism incidents, up from 903 last year. In the 2001/02 school year when statistics were first being collected, there were 566 incidents, which cost the district just over $288,000.
Maple Ridge Secondary had the highest number with 159 incidents, Garibaldi was second with 88 incidents and Eric Langton Elementary had 85 incidents — the third highest number of incidents.
Vandalism incidents have increased dramatically at Yennadon Elementary, and Ward said the school district is trying to figure out what’s happening there.
There were 48 vandalism incidents at the school last year, whereas in the 2006/07 school year there were only 18. The summer was quiet at Yennadon, but Ward said on the second day of school there was once again an attempted break and enter.
“We really need the public’s help,” Ward said about rectifying the problem. She added schools need to get involved and in turn the school needs to engage the community around them. The neighbours are the “eyes and ears” when the school is not occupied.
The school district has put in various devices to deter vandals, for example, sprinklers, magnetic locks, shutters, sound devices, trip wires and cameras.
The fewest incidents — three — occurred at the district maintenance office, and only five occurred at the district office on Brown Avenue.
Vandalism is also up in the community at large in both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. In the first six months of 2007, there were 552 reported incidents of vandalism in Maple Ridge, and 139 in Pitt Meadows — in 2008, there were 623 in Maple Ridge between January and June, and 176 in Pitt Meadows in the equivalent time period.
The most common type of vandalism is graffiti, according to the RCMP. The police have tried to encourage reporting of vandalism even if it doesn’t result in any action in order for them to accurately track the numbers.
The school district established the anti-vandalism community task force seven years ago to combat increasing vandalism. It includes members of the RCMP, the fire department, principals and vice-principals and the business community.
The SD42 anti-vandalism hotline is [stop snitchin’].