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Roots of Vandalism: When Students Engage in Wanton Destruction, What Can Schools Do?

NCJ Number
American School Board Journal Volume: 189 Issue: 7 Dated: July 2002 Pages: 1-7
Susan Black
Date Published
July 2002
7 pages
This article presents a brief overview of vandalism by students in schools with a description of different types of vandals, the connection between the school climate or environment and vandalism, and prevention strategies.
According to a 1998 U.S. Department of Education report, the most frequent crimes occurring on school property were fights, theft, and vandalism with an estimated 234 out of every 100,000 students involved in some degree of vandalism. This article briefly describes factors involved in the act of vandalism specific to schools, a description of vandals, and strategies in preventing school vandalism through environmental design. Increased incidents of vandalism were found in both urban and rural schools with an increase in neighborhoods plagued with high crime. In addition, in schools that were large and impersonal and where there was hostility and an authoritarian environment vandalism is more likely. Five categories of vandals are presented: vindictive kids, malicious kids, ideological kids, bored kids, and frustrated kids. A 1998 study by Denise Gottfredson on prevention strategies focused on school and classroom environments as opposed to changes in student attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Other prevention strategies discussed included surveillance systems, community involvement, and school design. References