The Graffiti Exposure in Wynnum
Is it a work of art; or a piece of scrawl sprayed across some bare surface? Ladies and Gentlemen, should Wynnum be exposed to Graffiti?
Firstly, I would like to ask you. What is the cost to the government to 'cover up' this unwanted advertisement? One recent attack placed a school approximately $4000 out of pocket. Further more, over the last twelve months, my school has experienced nine attempts at destroying the asthetic appeal of the buildings within. I could also safely say that most of the other schools in the Wynnum Manly district, both public and private, received similar encounters of degradation.
It's not just the cost, it's also the time. What about the cleaners? What about the painters? What about the police? I am sure there are more constructive projects to cover than cleaning up after some graffiti vandal.
It is not just our schools who experience the attacks. Scout dens, parks, businesses, trains, just to name a few, all lie in the mercy of the local crew, or graffiti gang.
Is there a reason for such an act? Criminologists suggest that there are many motives for graffiti. These motives all point to one main factor. Targeting the higher authority:
Revenge towards the authority;
Anger towards the authority;
Boredom from lack of authority;
To convince of self-existence, and
To explore prohibited areas placed by authority.
The pattern of locations the police established, is that all the tags, or the writer's signature, are placed in exposed, publicised areas so the public can witness the graffiti vandal's attempt to 'make his point.'
The targets are not necessarily towards formal authority, such as the police, but also informal authorities such as social morals; for example, the principle of a school.
If we removed authority from our society, the social control would be lost, making it impractical and impossible for our or any society to operate successfully. So what can be done?
It is sad to hear that after several graffiti attacks in the Bayside area, the shock value of the concept is lost. The attitude of the police is pesermistical - 'the problem can not be eliminated.' However, what if the problem could be prevented.
At Wynnum North High, in 1993, our school Chaplain, Mr. Kappa, began to run afternoon 'legal street art' projects. The Wynnum/Redlands Youth and Community Combined Action Project are also holding Legal Street Art Workshops and both have gained high success rates of reducing the level of illegal graffiti artists in the Bayside area.
These projects encouraged youths to be involved in organised, supervised activities and helped them develop an appreciation and respect for community property and the environment. The project also encourages and provides mechanisms for youths to leease with local authority groups and the community in a positive manner.
The workshops catered to mainly benefit the individuals. It offers an environment where the participants can build trust and non-threatening relationships with the supervisors. The supervisors also provide support to the artists, as they usually carry their emotional baggage to the workshops.
The programme gives the artists a sense of belonging and acceptance to the community, removing the motives mentions earlier. And improving the participants' self-esteem with achievements, such as a final mural painted by the group, accomplished in the workshops.
As a result of the project's aims to shift the emphasis from illegal to legal street art, the style became more acceptable for the public eye, and portrayed positive attitudes, giving legal street art a more acceptable place in society.
The workshops have seen many of the illegal graffiti artists become successful after attending, and have gone to further their careers in sign writing, designing and advertising.
In addition to these local projects, a recent issue in the 'Queensland Education Views' gazette reported the decreasing school damage insurance claims. The article quotes that in 1992, there were 5601 insurance claims by state schools.
In late 1992, an injection of almost one million dollars into school security seen a 20% decrease in school insurance claims on vandalism. The claim in 1994 fell to 4485 claims. The article states that the decline is from establishing a School Watch programme, which increases the level of security of the school, following the same objectives as the Neighbourhood Watch programme.
Joining the two enterprises, we will see the level of graffiti drop dramatically in our community as well as our schools.
I believe that such projects as the Legal Street Art programme can convert the offenders from resisting to joining the community. Thus giving them a chance to wipe their slate clear, and start off new with a more positive, and prosperous aspect towards life.
As the old saying goes, 'prevention is better than the cure' so if these organisations receive appropriate funding and support, we will see a substantial reduction of vandalism in the Bayside area.