Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Mind of a Vandal

A question for you this morning:

What do you think causes vandalism?

We certainly have plenty of it. Everywhere, every day. From graffiti smeared walls to smashed tombstones. Scratched cars to trashed bus stops. Smashed windows to toppled trees. Some downright vicious! Broken beer bottles spread around kiddies playgrounds for example.

I don’t understand any of it.

This insane desire to smash, to damage, to cause pain to strangers for no apparent reason. Just the feeling of power I guess? Cause someone else grief?
Do you understand any of it?
Why would anyone, and there had to be more than one, smash historic tombstones in Perth?These people obviously weren’t kids. They had to understand what they were doing.

Why would anyone destroy beautiful trees in Westboro?

And it is my belief that vandalism goes beyond how we generally describe it.
It is my belief that littering our streets and sidewalks is a form of vandalism. It helps destroy the beauty of our city and costs taxpayers money to clean up. Dropping gum on sidewalks is a terrible form of vandalism. Have a look at any sidewalk in our city and it is littered with black spots almost impossible to remove. Gum, cigarette butts strewn about, garbage tossed from car windows in rural areas.

It’s all destructive, harmful, costly.

All evidence of humans who care nothing for others-selfish-often cruel-acts. Why?
What do people get from smashing tombstones, scratching cars, breaking windows and trying to injure children?
Is it just part of the growing trend among many young people today to display complete and total disrespect for others and others property?
My generation didn’t feature very many saints. We pulled plenty of stunts, but never, NEVER harmed anyone else or damage others property. The idea that we would set out to deliberately hurt someone else, cause innocent people pain or grief never entered our heads.
What’s behind all this vandalism of all kinds today? Why do people slash tires, smash windows, topple gravestones, cut down trees, smear graffiti everywhere, dump garbage on our streets and gum on our sidewalks? Destroy, damage and harm everything decent and good seems to be the mantra today and I don’t understand it.

Do you?


Heather Fletcher said...

Mr. Green, I e-mailed you with my opinion. As a person whose father's grave was vandalized several years ago, I was mortified by this. It is not a victimless crime. These teenagers..young adults...whatever you want to call them, are almost sociopaths to think this is smart, or funny.I believe it's a result of our lenient judicial system, and over indulgent parenting. There are NO repercussions for juvenile offenders and they know it. Parents aren't taking the time to monitor or teach their children right from wrong. Mr. Green, I am not some old fussbudget. I am a 34 year old mom. I really believe parents are letting their kids, and society down by not teaching their kids the right things.

CougarXLS said...

I wish I had an answer for you, but I am at a loss as well. I don't understand how one could destroy tombstones or how one could destroy trees for no reason what-so-ever.

I am 22, and it's probably my age group that are most likely to vandalize. I don't know why, this is only an observation. I don't. In fact, I've been the victim of vandals. It's unfair, and it hurts. Why do people do it?

Because they are silly little losers with too much time on their hands! That would be my guess.

deneb said...

Lowell, vandalism seems to be more prevalent and pervasive, today, than during the relatively innocent, crab-apple throwing days of our youth.

I believe that there is no single root cause, instead there are many causes of dysfunctional, youth.

Certainly, the dissolution of the classical nuclear family is one contributing factor for this epidemic of vandalism and youth criminality.

Absent an established family hierarchy there is no respect and operational discipline within the family. Every human organization involves a leader and subordinate elements. From corporations and government to miltary unions, there has to be a solid hierarchal foundation. Remove the respect for this system and it crumbles.

Vandalism is a crime of disrespect -- granted, all crime could be classified as an act of "disrespect" in some way, but vandalism is such a direct expression of it.

rockstar19 said...

The people that commit these acts could care less about your feelings.
Gravestones, trees, cars, it does not matter.
It is the thrill of getting caught. Not much different than doing an extreme sport where you can get really messed up.
If the penalties were stiffer there would be much less of it although there will always be a few morons around to bother us.
Hey, we can't all be winners.

xanthippaschamberpot said...

All right, this may not be politically correct, but I think I DO know what causes 'Vandalism'...

Not just one thing, but rather a couple of things coming together...but deeply related.

When collectivism replaces individualism in a society, each and every citizen's worth is diminished: after all, their individual worth is negligible when compared to the collective. So, people - especially young people who are just growing into adulthood and trying to figure out their own worth - feel rage at the society's message that they are disposable...

On the other hand, you have the 'mature' citizens already mired in 'not my problem' attitude - also a result of being dehumanized by the collectivist society...

This 'learned passivity' of the mature citizens together with the rage at their own 'worthlessness' by the young is a combination that produces things like vandalism...or worse.

Both are symptoms of collectivist society... I grew up in a 'socialist country' and have seen these symptoms before - if we continue down this path, it'll get worse.

djxtreme said...

A sane rational "mature" person cannot understand whatever thrill or drive these people experience to do such things. However, it is very clear in todays society fostered by left thinking "we cant punish" and the criminals have rights too we are faced with a new generation that is defiant at every step. I just discovered my 13 yr old feels like punching me everyday if he has his computer time restricted for mouthing off or not doing homework. Trouble is this happens everyday. They feel no consequence. I try but get hostility. As a teen myself sure I did bad things, but nothing on the scale we are seeing today. Why? Ask the "experts". They know whats best right? JUst like SHaria law now in Britain. Lowell, we are in big trouble. As far as global warming, climate change, whatever they are calling it now here's an article from the BBC.

Heather Fletcher said...

OMG All I can say in retort to xanthippaschamberpot is this. Ok...whil eI'm sure you are coming from a true experience etc. I firmly believe these little buggers do these things...because they can. It has nothing to do with their sense of worthlessness or anything else. They are malicious "the cops aren't gonna touch me" little beggars. Let's call a spade a spade here. They very well may come from broken/single parent homes...so did I. My father died however, he didn't leave. I think it all stems from these kids knowing there is no repercussion. I see them all the time. They don't care. That is the bottom line. You can come from abject poverty/squalor but still have a sense of right from wrong. People keep making excuses for these young men and women and they don't deserve them. A lot of people have had hard lives...you are given paths to choose...it's the right one...or the wrong one.

A'ine said...

I am 32 and at the risk of sounding like an old fart, I will say this:
I believe the reasons for these acts of vandalims are thus:
1) Parents refuse to take responsibility for their minor children and their actions.
2) Kids today do not fear the larger community...by this I mean that I had a healthy respect for the other adults in my community, who, if they had caught me doing something like this would have felt free to mete out whatever justice or discipline they felt was prudent (these were reasonable people, before someone goes flying off the deep end), as well as inform my parents.
3) When this vandalism, graffiti, etc., is left without being cleaned up, it sends a message that we do not care...which also ties back to my prior to points in that, kids aren't made to clean up after themselves.
The question that begs an answer is, who is "minding the store?"
Parent's aren't; the neighbourhood/community isn't; the teachers don't. So the buck stops....nowhere?

xanthippaschamberpot said...

@ Heather

Yes, I agree with you.

Coming from a poor home or a rich home, easy life or a hard life, a one-parent, two-parent or three-parent home - that still does NOT change the fact that our kids live in a collectivist society.

The difference here is that in an 'individualist' society, children are taught very different principles - at home AND at school. All 'stuff' belongs TO someone - so breaking it actually hurts that person. It is a philosophy that holds each individual responsible for their actions - successful or harmful. Reward and punishment - INDIVIDUAL accountability.

In a collectivist society, 'stuff' belongs to 'everyone', so vandalizing 'stuff' is not actually perceived as hurting a particular person. Break a car? Some faceless insurance company will pay. Burn a play-structure? It's not like anyone YOU know actually built it....

And as for parents - why should they teach their kids to succeed, when they (the kids) will never actually benefit? If they make lots of money, it'll only be taxed away... Why feed your kids breakfast? The school will do it... Why bother parenting - the 'society' will take care of it...

Collectivism has NOTHING to do with poverty. To put in another way: individualism strives for equality of opportunity; collectivism strives for equality of outcome.

And if you KNOW you will not be punished OR rewarded because the society strives for equality of outcome, it might just be more fun to opt for bad choices. You KNOW you'll get away with it.

Robert said...

Partly it is the knowledge of knowing that you will not be punished. Kids are not afraid of authority today.

Partly is the same reason the parents council at my children's school is adament they will put in place a breakfast program that will allow any child that wants to have a free breakfast at school each morning.

Lazy parenting.

Heather Fletcher said...

I agree completely! The breakfast programs really...irk me. I understand they are there for the less fortunate children. However, I have seen kids who very well could eat at home use them. Lazy parenting is in my opinion the biggest problem. I notice they caught the lone/one of the people who toppled the gravestones in Perth...18 years old! I mean, c'mon at 18 you are a legal adult. I hope the book get gets thrown at this loser.

xiz said...

Having spent several weeks in Sweden last year, one of the most 'collectivist' societies on the planet, I was amazed at the almost total lack of graffitti and vandalism.

Go figure.

mary said...

1. All I hear from Liberal's, NDP, Green Party and Dion is spend, spend, spend taxpayers money like there is no tomorrow. 2.Conservative's are using taxpayers money wisely and we would benefit greatly by having a majority consertive government,I diffinitely feel it would cut down on the childish behaviour in government and allow more important issues to be solved and voted on like ex health care, and please let us not have a carbon tax...one more thing Dion I hear you speak about Quebec as a nation over and over again, are you trying to break up our country,,Mary