Students getting vandalism message

Incident reports down in local school district

The first week back at school has traditionally meant an onslaught of vandalism and graffiti for many local schools.

However, this year, students appear to be bucking the trend.

“It’s still early to tell, but the preliminary numbers seem to indicate the trend hasn’t repeated itself,” said Wayne Jefferson, the district’s secretary-treasurer.

“This is very positive.”

Jefferson said he believes the social responsibility lesson schools teach their students are starting to have an effect.

“I think maybe we’re seeing that take root,” he said. “It’s a different generation, and kids seem to respect the schools more these days.”

Only 720 incidents of school vandalism occurred in the district in 2010/11, the lowest level since the district started recording incidents in 2003. Vandalism peaked in 2007/08, when 1,248 incidents were reported.

Jefferson recalled the mid-1990s, when graffiti and vandalism was rampant.

“Students have a newfound respect,” he said.

While graffiti and vandalism still exist, incidents are becoming less frequent, and more minor in nature.

In the past two weeks, among the more extreme cases occurred at Blue Mountain elementary, which had its roof vents and gutters vandalized, while Laity View elementary had a pair of windows broken.

Jefferson noted that the majority of students have always refrained from such behaviour.

“It’s the outliers who are responsible, it’s always that minority,” he said.

Previous estimates put the cost of school vandalism in the district at more than $500,000 annually.

“We can only hope, as taxpayers and citizens, that this continues,” he said.

The district has installed metal rolling shutters to protect windows on many schools to help combat vandalism in recent years. Schools have also employed video surveillance, motion detectors, automated sprinkler systems, and the Mosquito teen deterrent – a device that emits an obnoxious high-pitched noise audible only to young people. The district also operates a 24-hour vandalism hotline and forwards reports of vandalism to the district’s security firm or the RCMP so they can respond.

• Anti-vandalism hotline: 604-466-4357.