Mary 1976

Vandalism poll among MS students reveals theft as common experience
no author

   If you haven't been vandalized in the past few months, the odds that you soon will be are excellent according to a poll taken recently among 258 Main e South students.
   The poll, conducted by the News Reporting classes, found that over half, 139, of the students interviewed had been vandalized. Over half, 171, also said they had been present during an act of vandalism or had seen such an act.
   The survey asked students to give their age and grade and to class themselves as to whether they strongly supported school, 19 said they did; like school, 93; were disinterested in school, 34; or disliked school, 29. 83 others declined to make a choice.
   The survey was used to find out how many students have been directly involved in vandalism either as witness or victim. "We wanted suggestions on how to stop vandalism and we wanted to know how students feel about vandalism,, said Mr. Beatty, instructor of the course.
   Typical offenses reported in the survey ranged from teepeeing to serious instances of theft and damage to student property.
   The most common offenses reported were locker break-ins. Next in line came the theft of books, money, gym clothes, winter coats.
   Property damage most frequently reported came in the form of eggs thrown against house or car. Next were broken windows, stolen cassettes and tape decks from cars, and then paint spread over car or brick walls at home. Over 100 acts of destruction were listed by students.
   Some students reported expensive damage or breakage to their bicycles and their car's engine.
   As part of the survey students were asked to suggest ways to stop vandals.
   Catching the vandal, students felt, could be accomplished by increasing security measures. A junior suggested, "increase the number of people who watch the halls." Another suggested, "use a twenty-four hour dog patrol with walking policemen."
   A freshman suggested increased patrols and "lots of lights outside the school." One senior wanted "lettermen to patrol the halls" or at least to act as hall monitors.
   Increased patrols, however, struck one junior as a poor solution. The junior said, "having security guards around doesn't do anything except create a bad atmosphere in the school." Some felt the same, saying that such increased or tightened security simply offered a challenge to vandals.
   The survey asked students what they thought they would do if they saw a vandal at work. Eighty students said they would try to stop the vandal. Some added, "If he were a friend or I at least knew the person."
   Only forty-eight students felt they would report an act of vandalism regardless of the consequences. Ninety-four students felt they would turn in a vandal to an authority if they felt they could do so without becoming known.
   Most of those who commented on this question feared some form of reprisal, either actual damaging reprisal or a form of ridicule.
   Once a vandal is caught, 151 of those surveyed believed he should be punished in some way. They also felt that any vandal should have to pay out of his own pocket for any damages he has caused. Only nine students felt that the school or taxpayers should have to foot vandalism bills.
   Punishment recommended for vandals ranged from suspension to acts of revenge.
   Those with vengeance in mind included a seniors who said, "take an eye for an eye." Another senior said, "Knock his head in." Even a freshman suggested, "Beat 'em up or shoot 'em with a salt gun."
   One irate senior whose art project was stolen, said, "Hang him with the wall hanging he stole (from me)."
   Many students were less drastic. A junior felt, "there really is no way to catch vandals, but you can stop it by punishing the ones that do get caught more severely."
   One senior felt the best solution would be to improve counseling.
   One way, who signed himself as Robert Goulet, said that any vandal caught should be "rewarded with $50" and sent on his way. We hope he feels the same way after someone rips him off.
    Our lst question to the students was what they considered minor or major acts of vandalism.
   An expected result was that vandalism committed against a fellow student was felt to be a major crime deserving severe punishment. Over half of the students, 134, said they would turn in anyone they saw ripping off another student.
   By way of contrast, 188 students said removing library books without checking them out was a minor offense and only 60 of them would turn in a person for doing so.
   Of those interviewed 181 considered the pulling of a false fire alarm to be a serious crime. Eighty-four said they would report such an incident.
   The use of M-80s to destroy property was regarded as serious as were other expensive forms of vandalism, breaking windows, breaking ceiling tiles and audio visual equipment. Most felt they should report this type of vandal.
   Minor crimes were considered by the students to include throwing garbage or paper on floors and writing on desks and walls. Less than ten people in each instance felt these to be serious crimes worthy of reporting to authority.