When young people write up graffiti on public and people’s property it causes anger and frustration. It costs the community time and money to remove the nuisance of graffiti. The strategies used to reduce graffiti are basically “zero tolerance” with strict enforcement of the law. Communities address the problem of graffiti in a paramilitary style.
How many see those who do graffiti as needing to be recognised, to be noticed, to be part of the community.
How many see graffiti as a cry for help. Those who do graffiti often do drugs as well –drug users who do graffiti are in need of addict help.
Graffiti on the wall represents in our society symptoms of a great divide – between those who place high value on the ownership of property and those who it would seem only want to spoil it. In objective terms graffiti causes minimal property damage – most people simply dismiss graffiti as an annoying public nuisance and seek punishment for the offenders.
When kids repeatedly go out late at night to write graffiti on our walls it really should make you wonder why they make that choice, when they could be home and comfortably asleep.
Kid’s who do graffiti say that they get excitement from putting graffiti on the wall, writing up tags makes them feel empowered. Graffiti can vary between mere symbols of identity and some very complex artwork that makes a personal and social statement. There is communication in graffiti if only people can see it.
Those who do graffiti would appear to know no better way of expressing their emotions and making their presence in the community known. When kids are denied the attention they need they make a nuisance of themselves. Graffiti is the language of those who feel distanced from, alienated and otherwise ignored both in their community and at home. Drug use is common with graffiti offenders – is graffiti not just another sign of their need for addict help.
With graffiti becoming more common it would suggest that increasing numbers of young people are using graffiti as a means of relief from and an expression of emotional distress. The writing is on the wall, of that there is no doubt. We as a society need to refrain from taking the easy way out. Drug use and writing graffiti need to be addressed, not in terms of punishment by seeking compensation and redress.
We need to find the reasons why young people choose to scribble on the blank faces of our walls, and many other structures that represent institute power. You will very rarely find graffiti written on a rock.
When young people feel alienated and socially excluded it represents a failure by society to negotiate and accommodate to their needs. Not everyone thrives upon or enjoys the values inflicted by competition for resources and our materialistic ways. Perhaps it is those young people driven to drug use and writing graffiti to ease their emotional pain who should be calling for compensation, who are in need of redress.
Counseling to give graffiti offenders and addicts help should be directed to helping kid’s sort out their emotional problems and to find better ways of communication. Holistic methods of counseling give addict help for both drug use and graffiti at an emotional level. When kids feel that they are respected and improve their communication skills they simply won’t have a need any more for drug use or graffiti.