There has been a problem in our community, probably for half a century. The problem has still remained to be resolved appropriately. The problem is graffiti. Graffiti is defined as spray-painting of words or drawings on a wall or on a visible area in a community for a purpose of displeasing the general public.
Young people, mostly teenagers, are involved in this kind of misdemeanor. The cause of the problem is still unknown. There is no evidence that any researcher has been seriously taking graffiti as a major problem.
Every morning I walk down the street where I live as my routine exercise. I am fully aware that in this local area in South Australia, most non-arterial roads' speed limit is 40 km/h. This morning it has surprisingly come to my notice that the speed limit sign has been changed to 60 km/h. I am wondering how our local council could have changed the road rule overnight without any notice given to the general public. In fact, neither the local council has changed the rule overnight nor any transport authority has anything to do with it, but as a result of graffiti committed by somebody.
As I have seen some graffiti on walls, I thought that the impact of graffiti only affected the owner of the wall and had not much impact on the general public apart from a feeling of discomfort. Now graffiti on speed limit sign is a different case and it certainly will have a greater effect on motorists. Some motorists could have identified that the speed limit sign has been altered by graffiti, but for a few slightly visually impaired drivers it might be a problem especially when a speed camera is in operation nearby. Driving at a speed of 60 km/h in a 40 km/h zone attracts a large amount of fine and probably 2 demerit points. Therefore, graffiti can no longer be ignored in this case and the safety purpose of the road rule in a 40 km/h zone is adversely affected. This could impliedly lead to the issue of public safety and for the innocent drivers a violation of traffic rules.
Is graffiti a behavioral disorder? There is no evidence that any prominent behavioral therapist or psychologist has ever mentioned that graffiti is in association with a human behavioral disorder. In most cases, graffiti is done by young people who could be in their early practice of artistic skills and some of them maybe in their expectation of displeasing general public. There are no resources for them to practice their artistic skills so walls and other public properties have become their targets. This could be normal behavior in terms of patterns of teenagers' conducts such as riding push-bikes and skateboards. It is a very rare case for an adult person to do graffiti.
One local newspaper reported quite some time ago that police surveillance has increased to deter the act of graffiti. Unfortunately, graffiti is still a problem in our community. Police surveillance is not an efficient means to deter people from committing graffiti. Police forces can not be available at all times and in all areas in a community; rather they must have important matters which are most likely to be given priority over graffiti. Therefore, police surveillance has failed to solve the problem of graffiti.
How do we solve the problem of graffiti? There are, in my opinion, a few options which could at least diminish rather than totally wipe-out acts of graffiti among teenagers. The options which I considered appropriate are outlined below:
· Graffiti awareness program
· Creation of an alternative which would enable graffiti doers to practice their artistic skills.
Graffiti awareness program
A graffiti awareness program would include an educational program, an awareness program for the general public and lobbying of graffiti as an issue, which would be widely discussed in every local council's meeting. In educational program, students of Middle and High Schools would be encouraged to participate in essay competitions on graffiti. Teachers would be advised to teach the students that graffiti could not produce any benefit but harm to the victims. Schools would be encouraged to have initiation of any activities which would help students in perceiving that graffiti is wrong and that it should not be done.
The awareness program to the general public would include erecting of signs, which say ' graffiti watch' which is similar to the 'neighborhood watch', in visible public areas and encouraging the general public to observe, alert and report if they come across any cases of graffiti.
Graffiti on public properties, walls and speed limit signs directly affects local council offices in their local administrative tasks. So an issue of graffiti should be included in meeting's agenda in every local council. The issue needs wider discussion among councilors and a resolution is required on how to control widespread abuse of graffiti in the local council's jurisdiction.
Creation of alternative
As discussed above, graffiti is not a serious behavioral disorder and it can be controlled with the aid of the educational program and general awareness to the public. On the other hand, it is necessary to provide facilities for the graffiti doers to practice their painting skill. In the early age of skateboarding, children played skateboard in public and private car parks, such as supermarket's car parks and other private properties. We can still see signs, which say ' skateboarding not allowed' in supermarket's car parks. This came to local council's attention and as a result facilities, such as playgrounds for mountain bike and skateboard, were built for the welfare of the children. Now the general public are concerned that proper scrutiny of graffiti has become a requirement in a community. Is it a good idea that local councils are pressured to provide facilities for spray painting such as walls or wall-like boards just next to the skate boarding ground?
For Burmese Translators:
How can we translate 'graffiti' in Burmese, if possible with minimum Burmese words?