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Vandals and Vandalism in the United States - A Rural Perspective

NCJ Number
G H Phillips; J F Donnermeyer
Date Published
49 pages
Studies of vandalism in rural Ohio and Indiana highlight several important patterns about vandalism among rural youth.
Contrary to popular belief, most acts of vandalism were not 'harmless pranks.' Based upon descriptions provided by junior high school students from the Indiana study, nearly 3 out of every 4 acts of vandalism involved either a direct economic cost to the victim or an indirect cost in terms of the victim's time to repair or clean up the damage. Second, slightly over one-half of the rural youths in the two samples had participated in at least one act of vandalism, and a majority had been repeatedly involved three or more times. Third, evidence from both the Ohio and Indiana studies indicated that vandalism was 'normatively acceptable' behavior. Not only had a majority of the respondents engaged in vandalistic behavior three or more times, but nearly two-thirds in both study areas perceived vandalism as a 'game' or 'joke.' Very few in the Ohio sample viewed their actions as in any way criminal. Data also showed that vandalistic behavior was likely to occur in the county of residence of the vandal, the most likely target a private residence. Other patterns of vandalism are also noted. Tables, 3 notes, and 22 references are supplied. (Author summary modified)


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