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Fight to prevent graffiti vandalism targets kids

Jordy Atkinson, February 12, 2019 6:50PM Wyndham Leader

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Graffiti is a form of vandalism that costs governments and property owners a lot of money to remove. Picture: David Caird media_cameraGraffiti is a form of vandalism that costs governments and property owners a lot of money to remove. Picture: David Caird

humanities

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Children are becoming the latest weapon in the battle against graffiti.

Across Australia, councils and schools are developing education programs to teach students about the personal, community and environmental consequences* of graffitiing.

These include the disrespect graffiti shows to community members and homeowners, the concept of vandalism and how the law deals with graffiti offenders*.

The term “graffiti vandalism” refers to breaking the law by defacing* private or public property with markings and/or graphics without the owner’s consent*.

Defacing private or public property without consent is graffiti. Picture: David Caird media_cameraDefacing private or public property without consent is graffiti. Picture: David Caird

One Victorian council is spending more than $50,000 a year running school programs to convince young people not to graffiti.

But that’s just a fraction* of the cost of removing graffiti: the council is spending nearly $400,000 a year to clean it up.

More than 1000 Year 8 students at schools across Wyndham Council west of Melbourne have completed the anti-graffiti education program in the past 18 months, with that age group found to be the most at risk of offending.

Nearly $35,000 has already been spent on graffiti removal by the council so far this year.

Wyndham Councillor Kim McAliney said the one-hour session teaches teens about the different types of graffiti, its costs to the community and the consequences of offending, as well as directing them towards positive artistic self-expression.

Public paintings that are welcomed or approved are considered street art, while graffiti is a form of vandalism. Melbourne is known for some amazing street art, such as this mural of AFL footballer Nathan Jones in Hosier Lane. Picture: Jay Town media_cameraPublic paintings that are welcomed or approved are considered street art, while graffiti is a form of vandalism. Melbourne is known for some amazing street art, such as this mural of AFL footballer Nathan Jones in Hosier Lane. Picture: Jay Town

It’s not just Wyndham Council that sees the benefits in investing in anti-graffiti education. Also in Victoria, the City of Greater Geelong ran education programs for more than 200 young people in the town of Ocean Grove in 2018. As a result of the programs, participants helped design anti-graffiti murals that were installed on the outside of the local aquatic centre.

In Queensland, City of Gold Coast has developed education programs aimed at children as young as five years old through to year 12s and in Western Australia, the government-led State Graffiti Taskforce has similar education programs for students of all ages.
AUSTRALIAN GRAFFITI FACTS

  • Estimated annual cost of graffiti and vandalism to the Australian community: $2.7 billion
  • Penalties for graffiti vandalism: Fines (up to $440) or jail time
  • Graffiti Free Week: in March each year across Australia

VIDEO: This big street art mural was commissioned to celebrate the Lion King musical in Melbourne in 2017

STREET ART OR GRAFFITI?
This is a common question asked by children and adults when they see paintings on public walls and at train stations and bus-stop shelters.

When separating the two, councils consider whether the artwork was approved ahead of time and whether it has any artistic merit*.

Melbourne has made its name as a street-art tourist attraction, bringing visitors to its many laneways to see the bright, colourful paintings in famous areas such as Hosier Lane and DeGraves St.

A mural feature basketballer Ben Simmons in Hosier Lane, Melbourne. Picture: Mark Stewart media_cameraA mural feature basketballer Ben Simmons in Hosier Lane, Melbourne. Picture: Mark Stewart

The history of street art traces back to tagging or scratching names into walls and concrete in New York, US, in the late 1960s.

One of the world’s most famous street artists is Banksy. No one knows who Banksy is but we do know he began his career as a graffiti artist in the early 1990s, in Bristol, UK, before his work became more widely recognised in London and around the world.

GLOSSARY

  • consequences: result or effect
  • offenders: those who offend, or do something wrong
  • defacing: spoiling the surface of something
  • consent: agree
  • fraction: part of; usually means small part of
  • merit: whether something is good or valued by others

EXTRA READING

Street artist hits the big time

$1.7 million Banksy painting self-destructs at auction

Eye spy graffiti, or is it art?

Murals transform country towns

QUICK QUIZ

  1. What are some of the types of consequences of graffiti?
  2. How much is Wyndham Council spending on graffiti removal each year?
  3. Explain one way the City of Geelong is trying to prevent graffiti at the swimming pool.
  4. What is the cost of graffiti each year in Australia?
  5. What two things do councils consider when they decide if something is graffiti?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. For and against statements

After reading the information in the Kids News article about councils trying to prevent graffiti, write a list of statements that could argue FOR and AGAINST graffiti. Try to remember the definition given in the article about how graffiti is different to approved ‘street art’.

Choose one side of the argument (For or Against) and write a paragraph stating all the reasons why you believe graffiti should or shouldn’t be allowed. Your job is to persuade your reader to agree with your side of the argument.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Ethical capability

2. Extension
Create a Consequences of Graffiti chart with three blank sections: Personal, Community, Environmental.

Now consider all the consequences of graffiti. Some are listed in the article but think up as many as you can of your own.

Record all the consequences on your chart.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Ethical & Personal and Social capabilities

VCOP ACTIVITY
With a partner see if you can you identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.

Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you think graffiti should be against the law? Why or why not?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking.

Extra Reading in humanities