by Kelly Dedel
This guide addresses school vandalism and break-ins, describing the problem and reviewing the risk factors. It also discusses the associated problems of school burglaries and arson. The guide then identifies a series of questions to help you analyze your local problem. Finally, it reviews responses to the problem, and what is known about them from evaluative research and police practice.The term school vandalism refers to willful or malicious damage to school grounds and buildings or furnishings and equipment. Specific examples include glass breakage, graffiti, and general property destruction. The term school break-in refers to an unauthorized entry into a school building when the school is closed (e.g., after hours, on weekends, on school holidays).
School vandalism and break-ins are similar to vandalism and break-ins elsewhere, and some of the responses discussed here may be effective in other settings. However, schools are unique environments; the factors underlying school vandalism and break-ins differ from those underlying similar acts elsewhere, and therefore must be analyzed separately. Related problems not addressed in this guide include
School break-ins typically fall into one of three categories:
While school vandalism and break-ins generally comprise many often-trivial incidents, in the aggregate, they pose a serious problem for schools and communities, and the police and fire departments charged with protecting them. Many school fires originate as arson or during an act of vandalism.2 Though less frequent than other types of school vandalism, arson has significant potential to harm students and staff. In the United Kingdom in 2000, approximately one-third of school arson fires occurred during school hours, when students were present, a significant proportional increase since 1990.3Over the past two decades, concerns about school violence, weapons, drugs, and gangs have eclipsed concern and discussion about school vandalism, its causes, and possible responses. However, even as concerns about student and staff safety from violence have become school administrators’ top priority, vandalism and break-ins continue to occur regularly and to affect a significant proportion of U.S. schools. From 1996 to 1997, the incidence of murder, suicide, rape, assault with a weapon, and robbery at schools was very low.4 In contrast, over one-third of the nation’s 84,000 public schools reported at least one incident of vandalism, totaling 99,000 separate incidents.5
Graffiti tagging and other forms of defacement often mar school buildings and grounds.
These statistics likely fail to reveal the magnitude of the problem. While the U.S. Department of Education, major education associations, and national organizations regularly compile data on school-related violence, weapons, and gang activity, they do not do so regarding school vandalism and break-ins. One reason for this may be that schools define vandalism very differently—some include both intentional and accidental damage, some report only those incidents that result in an insurance claim, and some include only those incidents for which insurance does not cover the costs.6 School administrators may hesitate to report all cases of vandalism, break-ins, or arson because they view some as trivial, or because they fear it will reflect poorly on their management skills.7 Partially because of the failure to report, few perpetrators are apprehended, and even fewer are prosecuted.8
The lack of consistency in reporting school vandalism and break-ins means that cost estimates are similarly imprecise. Vandalism costs are usually the result of numerous small incidents, rather than more-serious incidents. Various estimates reveal that the costs of school vandalism are both high and increasing.9 In 1970, costs of school vandalism in the United States were estimated at $200 million, climbing to an estimated $600 million in 1990.10 Not only does school vandalism have fiscal consequences associated with repairing or replacing damaged or stolen property and paying higher insurance premiums if schools are not self-insured, but it also takes its toll in terms of aspects such as difficulties in finding temporary accommodations and negative effects on student, staff, and community morale.
Not all incidents of vandalism and break-ins have the same effect on the school environment. Again, two useful dimensions for understanding the problem’s impact are the monetary cost (where the repair charges are high), and the social cost (where the event has a significant negative impact on student, staff, and community morale). Events with high monetary and social costs typically occur less frequently than those with low monetary and social costs.11
Type I—High Social/High Monetary
Type II—Low Social/High Monetary
Type III—High Social/Low Monetary
Type IV—Low Social/Low Monetary
Adapted from Vestermark and Blauvelt (1978)
*Refers to damage to school grounds caused by vehicles being driven across lawns and fields leaving deep tread marks.
**Refers to high volume, non-gang graffiti, complex works of street art, and more isolated or spontaneous acts of graffiti.
Understanding the factors that contribute to your problem will help you frame your own local analysis questions, determine good effectiveness measures, recognize key intervention points, and select appropriate responses.
Those who vandalize or break into schools are typically young and male, acting in small groups. Vandalism and break-ins are most common among junior high school students, and become less frequent as students reach high school.12 Those involved in school-related arson are more likely to be in high school.13 Many vandals have done poorly academically, and may have been truant, suspended, or expelled.14 As is typical of many adolescents, students who vandalize and break into schools have a poor understanding of their behavior’s impact on others, and are more concerned with the consequences to themselves.15 Offenders are no more likely to be emotionally disturbed than their peers who do not engage in the behavior, nor are they any more critical of their classes, teachers, or school in general.16
While the majority of students do not engage in vandalism, they do not generally harbor negative feelings toward those who do. In other words, “vandalism is a behavior that students can perform without the risk of condemnation by other students.”17 Youth who lack full-time parental supervision during after-school hours have been found to be more involved in all types of delinquency than students whose parents are home when they return from school.18 In 2002-2003, 25 percent of all school-aged children were left to care for themselves after school, including half of children in grades 9 through 12 and one third of children in grades 6 though 8.19
Though far less frequently, adults sometimes commit school vandalism and break-ins. Most often, they do so to steal high-value items (e.g., computers, televisions, cameras) and sell them on the street.20 Adults are far less likely to maliciously deface or destroy school property.
The typical observer may think school vandalism and break-ins are pointless, particularly when the offenders have focused on property destruction and have taken nothing of value. One can better understand the behavior when considering it in the context of adolescence, when peer influence is a particularly powerful motivator. Most delinquent acts are carried out by groups of youths, and vandalism is no exception. Participating in vandalism often helps a youth to maintain or enhance his or her status among peers.21 This status comes with little risk since, in contrast to playing a game or fighting, there are no winners or losers.
Beyond peer influence, there are several other motivations for school vandalism:
As schools have become increasingly technologically equipped, thefts of electronic and high-tech goods have become more common.23 Computers, VCRs, and DVD players are popular targets because they are relatively easy to resell. Students also steal more-mundane items such as food and school supplies, for their own use.
In addition, youth may participate in school vandalism or break-ins in a quest for excitement.24 Some communities do not have constructive activities for youth during after-school hours and in the summer. Without structured alternatives, youth create their own fun, which may result in relatively minor vandalism or major property damage to schools and school grounds.
A high proportion of vandalism occurs, quite naturally, when schools are unoccupied—before and after school hours, on weekends, and during vacations—as well as later in the school week and later in the school year.25 Local factors, such as the community’s use of school facilities after hours, may also determine when vandalism is most likely to occur in any one school.
Schools are prime targets for vandalism and break-ins for a number of reasons:
Partially hidden entryways can provide opportunity for would-be vandals.
Some schools are much more crime-prone than others, and repeat victimization is common.26 A school’s attractiveness as a vandalism target may also be related to its failure to meet some students’ social, educational, and emotional needs; students may act out to express their displeasure or frustration.27 Schools with either an oppressive or a hands-off administrative style, or those characterized as impersonal, unresponsive, and nonparticipatory, suffer from higher levels of vandalism and break-ins.28 Conversely, in schools with lower vandalism rates,
Certain physical attributes of school buildings and grounds also affect their vulnerability to vandalism and break-ins. In general, large, modern, sprawling schools have higher rates of vandalism and break-ins than smaller, compact schools.30 The modern, sprawling schools have large buildings scattered across campus, rather than clustered together. A school’s architectural characteristics may also influence the quality of administrative and teacher-student relationships that are developed, which can affect the school’s vulnerability. Common vandalism locations and typical entry points include31
Rooftops that are accessible only from within the building provide a greater degree of security.
Vandals damage schools that neglect grounds and building maintenance, those whose grounds have little aesthetic appeal, and those that do not appear to be occupied or looked after more often than they damage carefully tended and preserved schools.32
The information provided above is only a generalized description of school vandalism and break-ins. You must combine the basic facts with a more specific understanding of your local problem. Analyzing the local problem carefully will help you design a more effective response strategy.
The following are some critical questions you should ask in analyzing your particular problem of school vandalism and break-ins, even if the answers are not always readily available. Your answers to these and other questions will help you choose the most appropriate set of responses later on.
Traditionally, schools have focused almost exclusively on maintenance records for information on vandalism levels. These records should contain specific information on the location, type, entry method, time, suspected perpetrators, and other details essential to developing informed responses. Further, schools should report all incidents of vandalism and burglary, no matter how trivial, so that an assessment of the impact on individual schools and entire districts can be done.
New technology for mapping and analyzing incidents that occur in and around schools can reveal patterns and suggest possible reasons for them. The analysis should be as specific as possible to allow for precision in developing responses.
† The School Crime Operations Package (School COP) is a free software program for entering, mapping, and analyzing incidents that occur in and around schools. Developed by Abt Associates under a contract with the National Institute of Justice, the software is available at http://www.schoolcopsoftware.com/index.htm.
You can get some of the answers needed to understand your local problem from school risk assessments the police and fire departments have done. These assessments are primarily concerned with a school’s physical environment, building(s), grounds, policies, procedures, personnel, and technology, but also may address the social and academic environments relevant to crime prevention.
† Atkinson (2002) created a guide for fostering school partnerships with law enforcement, and for using the SARA model to analyze various crime problems affecting schools. [Full text] Sample school assessments are provided by Schneider, Walker, and Sprague (2000), and in the National Crime Prevention Council’s (2003) School Safety and Security Toolkit, available at http://www.ncpc.org/cms/cms-upload/ncpc/files/BSSToolkit_Complete.pdf.
Student and staff surveys are also useful for gaining insight into how the problem takes shape in your jurisdiction.
Beyond the physical security that armed, uniformed school resource officers (SROs) can provide, they are also excellent sources of information about the size of, scope of, and current responses to the problem. Because SROs from different schools are well connected to each other, they bring a systemwide or regional perspective to the information-gathering process.
Measurement allows you to determine to what degree your efforts have succeeded, and suggests how you might modify your responses if they are not producing the intended results. You should take measures of your problem before you implement responses, to determine how serious the problem is, and after you implement them, to determine whether they have been effective. All measures should be taken in both the target area and the surrounding area. (For more detailed guidance on measuring effectiveness, see the companion guide to this series, Assessing Responses to Problems: An Introductory Guide for Police Problem-Solvers.)
Regular monitoring is vital to developing a clear understanding of how each response affects school vandalism and break-ins. You should modify or discontinue ineffective responses. Event- and response-level monitoring requires a quality information system that includes specific details about the acts, the perpetrators, and the contextual factors, as well as data on how and when the responses were implemented.
The following are potentially useful measures of the effectiveness of responses to school vandalism and break-ins:
Some additional measures that, while not directly indicating effectiveness, may suggest that the situation is improving include
Your analysis of your local problem should give you a better understanding of the factors contributing to it. Once you have analyzed your local problem and established a baseline for measuring effectiveness, you should consider possible responses to address the problem.
The following response strategies provide a foundation of ideas for addressing your particular problem. These strategies are drawn from a variety of research studies and police reports. Several of these strategies may apply to your community’s problem. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem. Do not limit yourself to considering what police can do: give careful consideration to who else in your community shares responsibility for the problem and can help police better respond to it.
† In a project that applied situational crime prevention to school vandalism in Manchester, England, the task force narrowly defined school vandalism as a “building security problem,” which led to their selecting target-hardening measures only, to the detriment of the initiative’s effectiveness (Barker and Bridgeman 1994). [Full text]
Physical measures to improve building security have great appeal. Their use is already widespread in many places, is easy to understand, and usually involves a one-time outlay of funds. In contrast, measures focused on offenders, new administrative practices or policies, and community involvement appear to be more complex and difficult to implement. It may be difficult to gain group consensus on more-complex responses; however, the initiative’s overall balance depends on it.33
The large number of possible responses can be overwhelming. For this reason, they are categorized into four main sections: those that impact the physical environment, those that impact the offender, those that focus on school administrative practices, and those that enlist the community’s help. The overall initiative should include a balance of responses in each category, and should use the most potent combinations.
† The Southampton (England) Safer Schools project employed a diverse range of responses to combat problems with vandalism and burglary on school property. The responses included improvements to the schools’ design and layout, student- and staff-focused awareness activities, and opportunities for community engagement. Over an 18-month period, there was a 90 percent reduction in reported burglary and damage, and a 75 percent reduction in damage- repair expenditures (Hampshire Constabulary 2004).
Finally, responses should be implemented with great sensitivity to the goal of creating schools that are inviting public institutions. The cumulative effect of multiple responses can make schools appear fortress-like.
† The National Crime Prevention Council's School Safety and Security Toolkit includes detailed information on forming an action team, identifying problems, and developing action plans. The toolkit also includes sample surveys for parents, administrators, and students, as well as a sample school-safety assessment.It is vital that students be involved in the problem-solving effort, including school leaders and more-marginalized students.
†† The Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Police Department implemented a school safety program in which students were taught problem-solving skills and applied them to a range of school safety issues. Teachers served as facilitators, and the school resource officer served as an information source, offering expertise in dealing with crime and disorder. While none of the projects dealt with vandalism specifically, one could apply the process to it (Kenney and Watson 1999).A coordinator is often needed to organize the various stakeholders’ efforts, and to ensure that all of the selected responses are implemented according to design.
††† Though well-planned, an initiative to combat school vandalism in Manchester, England, suffered from the absence of someone to coordinate the overall implementation. Only 15 of 30 targeted responses were implemented, which severely compromised the initiative’s effectiveness (Barker and Bridgeman 1994). [Full text]
Barriers such as interior gates can help keep unauthorized persons out of areas vulnerable to theft or vandalism after hours.
† There are numerous mechanical and electronic fixtures to deter unauthorized entry. See Schneider, Walker, and Sprague (2000) for a description of the full array of options.
Such measures can also delay intruders’ efforts to get away. The potential effectiveness of this response decreases with inconsistent or improper use of the hardware. Some jurisdictions assign a teacher or other staff member to check all locks and gates at the end of each day.37
Intruder alarms, motion sensors, heat sensors, and glass-break sensors are useful for quickly detecting unauthorized entry. Because putting alarms and sensors throughout the school is likely to be cost-prohibitive, focusing on passageways to different parts of the building, and on areas where valuable equipment and records are stored, is most effective. Alarm signals should be sent to police, on-campus security posts, and the school principal.38 However, alarm systems are prone to high rates of false alarms, which not only cost the school if a fine is imposed, but also waste police resources. Faulty or inappropriately selected equipment, poor installation, and user error are the main causes of false alarms.39
Signs clearly stating school procedure and policy can increase awareness of rules while removing ambiguity and ignorance as excuses for improper behavior.
Consolidating valuable equipment in a secure area when not in use is an effective method of preventing theft.
Your police department may have an Operation ID program for inscribing equipment. The program is usually free, the inscription is visible but not unattractive, and the police keep records of the identification numbers.
† The International Dark-Sky Association (1997) offers suggestions for defining “lights out” policies and guidelines for implementing the practice. The San Diego school system saw a 33 percent reduction in property crime over a two-year period and saved more than $1 million in electricity costs after establishing such a policy (Patterson 1996).
†† See Goldstein (1996) and Schneider, Walker, and Sprague (2000) for more detailed information on using target-hardening devices at schools.
Computer labs and classes that use expensive equipment may be located on the second floor to impede access and removal.46
Prompt removal of graffiti denies graffiti artists the satisfaction of seeing their handiwork and, in the case of gang-related graffiti, the likelihood of retaliatory tagging.
††† Zeisel (1976) recommends involving students in the care of school buildings and grounds, and engaging them in ongoing, active projects. Further, motivating marginalized students, in addition to school leaders, can help to deter all students from future vandalism.
Conspicuously placed surveillance cameras can be a useful deterrent by increasing the risk of identification and prosecution.
† If this response is selected, many strategic decisions must be made regarding the system and component specifications, camera placement, wiring, etc. For a thorough discussion of these issues.Though the initial financial outlay may be significant, over the long term, CCTV may be less expensive than funding a full-time security patrol.
†† Poyner (1984) notes that schools are sometimes located in quiet areas some distance from busy commercial areas or traffic, for safety and amenity reasons. This isolation can diminish the advantage of having clear sight lines to key vulnerability points.Clear sight lines in key locations, such as entrances, parking lots, hallways, and playgrounds, maximize the ability of residents and passersby to observe activity in vulnerable areas.
††† The Turner-Fenton Secondary School in Ontario used the principles of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) to reduce the number of trespassers loitering on and vandalizing school property. Reorienting the school’s parking lot increased opportunities for natural surveillance and improved entry-point control. Separating the gymnasium from classroom areas with partitions and safety glass improved opportunities for natural surveillance in vulnerable corridors (Peel Regional Police 1996).Opportunities for natural surveillance are enhanced when staff offices are located throughout the school building, and staff should be vigilant as they move around the school.51
† It is important that mobile units be positioned to afford a clear view of as much of the school as possible, including the most likely approach and escape routes (Poyner 1984).An alternative to having an on-site residence is to stagger custodial shifts for 24-hour coverage. In either arrangement, it is important that the caretaker or custodian is instructed not to intervene in suspicious activity, but rather to alert security staff or the police.52
The most traditional approach to offender accountability involves either individual or group counseling to address the underlying motivations for the behavior. There has been some success with juvenile arsonists using this approach, and counseling that entails behavior modification (token economy, contingency contracts, incentives, and rewards) has had some success.53
Restitution programs include a set of administrative and legal procedures to get money from offenders to pay for repair or replacement of damaged property. Publicizing the results of these efforts is important to maintain their deterrent effect.54 Obviously, these programs are effective only to the extent that offenders are identified and apprehended.
One of the more promising approaches to encouraging offender accountability is to bring together all of the stakeholders in the issue to develop a resolution collectively. The goal is for the offender to make up for the offense, either by paying restitution or by repairing the damaged property.
† Strang (2002) describes how restorative justice programs have been implemented in Australia to deal with school vandalism. Nicholl (2000) explains the seven basic elements of restorative justice.
† A handbook containing practical guidance on property risk management was created and distributed to all head teachers in Scotland as part of a vandalism reduction strategy (Accounts Commission for Scotland 2001). [Full text]
† Typically, the school administers the account. One possible variation is for students to administer the account and to take responsibility for paying all of the bills for property replacement and repair. This helps students to better appreciate the real costs associated with even minor acts of vandalism (Casserly, Bass, and Garrett 1980).Programs involving rewards are most effective with younger students, but older students often respond to the opportunity for shared administrative authority and responsibility.60 Some jurisdictions do not deduct repair costs if the perpetrator is identified and restitution is made, which gives students an incentive to provide information.61
†† Mayer et al. (1987) created a school discipline survey to assess the quality of disciplinary procedures (pp. 204–206).
††† Aryani, Alsabrook, and Garrett (2001) provide specific information for setting up a Scholastic Crime Stoppers program, including administrative tips and responsibilities for police agencies, school administrators, and students. [Full text]The most effective programs actively involve students in collecting and synthesizing information for police, and in determining payout amounts in the event of apprehension.63
† Schools in Hartlepool, England, took the unusual step of targeting young school children (ages four to 11) in their efforts. After the initiative was launched in 33 primary schools, all students received pens and pencils with the “School Watch” logo, and were reminded of the initiative throughout the year through creative classroom activities. Involving students makes them feel important and also teaches good citizenship. As a result, the number of incidents and the associated costs decreased (Cleveland Police Department 1999). [Full text]Effective practices include:
In response to a specific problem or rash of incidents, School Watch has produced short-term reductions in vandalism.65 However, community watch programs are difficult to sustain, have not been shown to reduce crime over the long-term, and may actually increase the fear of crime.66
The table below summarizes the responses to school vandalism and break-ins, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.
|#||Response||How It Works||Works Best If…||Considerations|
|General Considerations for an Effective Response Strategy|
|1.||Recognizing the person-environment interaction||Addresses personal motivations for and environmental facilitators of vandalism||…multifaceted, potent combinations of responses are implemented||Overreliance on environmental responses can make schools seem fortress-like|
|2.||Establishing a task force||Involves stakeholders with varying expertise||…broad representation is sought, stakeholders are responsible for responses within their area of expertise, and student leaders and marginalized students are included||Due to its complexity, the initiative requires a coordinator to ensure that all responses are implemented according to design and within targeted timelines|
|3.||Using the media wisely||Shows vandalism’s impact, such as the scale of resources squandered and feelings of loss among students||…both local media and student media sources are used||There is a risk that media attention may sensationalize events and promote the concept of achieving notoriety through high-profile crimes committed against school property|
|4.||Setting priorities||Targets events with both high financial and social costs||…high-value items are protected, and priorities are established at the outset of the initiative||It may not address factors that contribute to high-volume but nonserious vandalism|
|5.||Operating at the district level||Maximizes the efficiency of problem analysis and response implementation||…individual schools are given the authority to fine-tune responses to address local conditions||Requires both district- and school-level facilitators to make sure that action plans are carried out at each site|
|Specific Responses to School Vandalism and Break-Ins|
|Changes to the Physical Environment|
|6.||Controlling access to deter unauthorized entry||Makes it difficult to enter school grounds and buildings after hours||…materials and devices are of good quality and cannot easily be broken or disabled||It can be more costly to fortify the building than to repair the damage caused by vandalism; fire escape routes may be compromised; it can give buildings a foreboding appearance|
|7.||Posting warning signs||Lists prohibited activities, indicates that the school is cared for and controlled, and deters potential intruders||…signs are prominently placed and are supplemented with architectural features such as gardens, sitting areas, and student artwork||It may not deter highly motivated offenders; signs and architectural features may become vandalism targets|
|8.||Storing valuables in secure areas||Makes it harder and more time-consuming to steal valuables||…valuables are stored in inner rooms with high-quality locking devices, and there are no signs indicating where high-value goods are||It may be inconvenient to staff who regularly want to access equipment|
|9.||Reducing the availability of combustibles||Makes it harder to start a fire, by limiting the materials available on-site||…trash cans are emptied regularly, and flammable chemicals are always properly secured||It requires constant attention; it may be inconvenient to staff who regularly want to access chemicals|
|10.||Inscribing valuables with identifying marks||Reduces the incentive for burglary by making it hard to sell stolen goods||…identifying marks are conspicuous and permanent||It can make equipment less attractive; it is ineffective if the vandal wants to destroy the items|
|11.||Adjusting indoor or outdoor lighting||Either increases others’ ability to spot intruders or reduces intruders’ ability to see what they are doing||…the community is aware of the school’s policy and knows how to report suspicious behavior to the police||Well-lit campuses have high energy costs; “dark campuses” may compromise the safety of staff and others who are there for legitimate reasons|
|12.||Obstructing vandals through physical barriers||Makes it harder to damage property||…high-quality, strong finishes and enclosures are used, and barriers are well maintained||It does not address vandals’ underlying motivation; it can be expensive; potential offenders may see it as a challenge|
|13.||Repairing damage quickly and improving the appearance of school grounds||Gives the impression that the school is under steady surveillance by those concerned about keeping it safe||…materials needed to repair damage or repaint surfaces are kept on hand||It requires constant attention by maintenance staff; multiple repairs can be costly|
|14.||Removing ground-floor glass windows and other vandalism targets||Eliminates or fortifies easily damaged fixtures||…features are considered when buildings are first designed, and high-quality glass substitutes are used||It can be costly and decrease the building’s attractiveness|
|15.||Increasing the frequency of security-staff patrols||Increases offenders’ risk of getting caught, and regular contact with police may improve reporting||…patrols are consistent but unpredictable, and mainly conducted by school security staff, conserving police resources for response and investigation||It requires significant manpower, which may be costly|
|16.||Using closed- circuit television||Increases offenders’ risk of getting caught, as footage may be used to identify them||…equipment is placed and angled properly, and used to review incidents rather than to prompt intervention in ongoing incidents||It is expensive and logistically difficult to install in existing buildings; cameras can be vandalized; it requires monitoring and consistent maintenance|
|17.||Improving opportunities for natural surveillance||Increases offenders’ risk of getting caught||…residents are encouraged to be alert to suspicious activity, and know how to report it to police||It is not useful if the school is in an isolated area|
|18.||Providing caretaker or “school sitter” housing on school grounds||Increases offenders’ risk of getting caught||…the caretaker feels it is cost-beneficial and is a school employee||Maintaining the residence may be costly; it may be hard to supervise the caretaker appropriately|
|19.||Holding offenders accountable||Deters would-be offenders from engaging in or repeating the behavior||…it is combined with investigative enforcement activities, involves students in problem-solving, addresses offenders’ motivations, and is publicized during student orientation||Its effectiveness is not well documented; few offenders are apprehended|
|20.||Diverting offenders to alternative activities||Decreases the amount of unstructured, unsupervised time offenders have; channels behavior in prosocial directions; and may encourage better reporting||…programs encourage a sense of ownership, target students appropriately, and involve students in planning activities||It may not involve the students most at risk for vandalism; it may not have credibility among disenfranchised student groups|
|School Management Practices|
|21.||Educating school staff||Increases the consistency with which other responses are applied, and increases offenders’ risk of getting caught||…property protection procedures are discussed regularly at staff meetings, and procedures are documented in a manual||It does not address offenders’ motivation or the environmental features that make the school vulnerable|
|22.||Controlling building and room keys||Reduces potential means of unauthorized access||…the distribution of keys is limited, and periodic key checks are conducted||It is limited to a single entry method; it depends on teacher vigilance and compliance with procedures|
|23.||Maintaining an inventory of valuable equipment||Improves the ability to detect when equipment has been stolen||…detailed inventory lists are created and secured off-site, and are updated regularly||It affects only the ability to confirm that property has been stolen; it has no prevention value|
|24.||Creating a “vandalism account”||Gives students an incentive to refrain from and report vandalism||…rewards are made available periodically throughout the year||It requires staff time to administer; apathetic youths can subvert the process; vandalism is not always committed by students; if no money is returned, the program loses credibility|
|25.||Changing the organizational climate||Makes the school more responsive to student needs, and addresses vindictive motivations||…students are involved in identifying concerns and designing modifications||It may be difficult to develop a plan; it requires motivated staff to implement changes; vandalism is not always committed by students|
|26.||Providing rewards for information concerning vandalism or break-ins||Increases incentives for students and residents to provide information, and increases offenders’ risk of getting caught||…it is supported by local police, and students are given autonomy in running the program||Investigation time may be wasted on inaccurate or misleading tips; it is not prevention-oriented|
|27.||Creating “School Watch” programs||Increases offenders’ risk of getting caught||…patrols are regular but unpredictable, volunteers immediately contact the police if they see suspicious activities, and activities and outcomes are well publicized||It can be hard to maintain resident participation levels; there is a risk of vigilantism among volunteers, and concerns about volunteer safety|
|28.||Evaluating public use of school facilities after hours||Increases offenders’ risk of getting caught||…rules and boundaries are clear, and other areas of the school are secured||Potential vandals or intruders may have unquestioned access to the school|
|Responses With Limited Effectiveness|
|29.||Controlling the sale of vandalism tools||Bans the sale of materials used for vandalism||It requires extensive cooperation from merchants; it does not address other means of acquiring tools|
|30.||Increasing penalties||Imposes harsh punishments on offenders||Punitive environments increase the incidence of vandalism; reporting is inconsistent, and apprehension rates are low; most acts of vandalism are minor and do not warrant severe penalties|
 Sadler (1988).
 Casserly, Bass, and Garrett (1980).
 Goldstein (1996).
 Sadler (1988).
 Goldstein (1996).
 National Education Association (1973); Stoner, Shinn, and Walker (1991).
 Vestermark and Blauvelt (1978).
 Strang (2002).
 Patterson (1996).
 Black (2002).
 Burquest, Farrell, and Pease (1992).
 Harlan and McDowell (1980).
 Casserly, Bass, and Garrett(1980); Goldstein (1996).
 U.S. National Institute of Education (1977).
 Zeisel (1976).
 Pablant and Baxter (1975).
 Hope and Murphy (1983).
 Trump (1998).
 Casserly, Bass, and Garrett (1980).
 Green (1999).
 Blauvelt (1981).
 Blauvelt (1981).
 Poyner (1984).
 Poyner (1984).
 Casserly, Bass, and Garrett (1980).
 Zeisel (1976).
 Zeisel (1976).
 Blauvelt (1981).
 Patterson (1996).
 Patterson (1996).
 Patterson (1996).
 Zeisel (1976).
 Zeisel (1976).
 Poyner (1984).
Accounts Commission for Scotland (2001). ‘A Safer Place’: Revisited: A Review of Progress in Property Risk Management in Schools. Edinburgh, Scotland: Accounts Commission for Scotland. [Full text]
Afterschool Alliance (2004). America After 3 PM: A Household Survey on Afterschool in America. Washington, D.C.: Afterschool Alliance. [Executive summary]
Allsopp, J. (1988). “Preventing Criminal Damage to Schools.” In D. Challinger (ed.), Preventing Property Crime. Seminar Proceedings, No. 23. Canberra, Australia: Australian Institute of Criminology. [Full text]
Arson Prevention Bureau (2003a). How to Combat Arson in Schools. London: Arson Prevention Bureau. [Full text]
——— (2003b). School Arson: Education Under Threat. London: Arson Prevention Bureau. [Full text]
Aryani, G., C. Alsabrook, and T. Garrett (2001). “Scholastic Crime Stoppers: A Cost-Benefit Perspective.” FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin 70(9):1–8. [Full text]
Atkinson, A. (2002). Guide 5: Fostering School-Law Enforcement Partnerships. Portland, Ore.: Northwest Regional Education Laboratory. [Full text]
Barker, M., and C. Bridgeman (1994). Preventing Vandalism: What Works? Crime Detection and Prevention Series, Paper 56. London: Home Office Police Research Group. [Full text]
Black, S. (2002). “The Roots of Vandalism: When Students Engage in Wanton Destruction, What Can Schools Do?” American School Board Journal 189(7):1–7.
Blauvelt, P. (1981). Effective Strategies for School Security. Reston, Va.: National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Burquest, R., G. Farrell, and K. Pease (1992). “Lessons From Schools.” Policing 8:148–155.
Canter, D., and L. Almond (2002). The Burning Issue: Research and Strategies for Reducing Arson. London: Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. [Full text]
Casserly, M., S. Bass, and J. Garrett (1980). School Vandalism: Strategies for Prevention. Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books.
Clarke, R. (ed.) (1978). Tackling Vandalism. Home Office Research Study, No. 47. London: Home Office. [Full text]
Cleveland Police Department (1999). “School Watch.” Submission for the Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing. [Full text]
Cohen, S. (1971). “Direction for Research on Adolescent School Violence and Vandalism.” British Journal of Criminology 9:319–340.
Cooze, J. (1995). “Curbing the Cost of School Vandalism: Theoretical Causes and Preventive Measures.” Education Canada 35(3):38–41. [Full text]
Florida Department of Education (2003). Florida Safe School Design Guidelines: Strategies to Enhance Security and Reduce Vandalism. Tallahassee, Fla.: Florida Department of Education. [Full text]
Fox, J., and S. Newman (1997). After-School Crime or After-School Programs: Tuning in to the Prime Time for Violent Juvenile Crime and Implications for National Policy. Washington, D.C.: Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. [Full text]
Garst, S. (2004). “The School Year in Pictures.” Security Management 48(3):74–79.
Gladstone, F. (1978). “Vandalism Amongst Adolescent Schoolboys.” In R. Clarke (ed.), Tackling Vandalism. Home Office Research Study, No. 47. London: Home Office. [Full text]
Goldstein, A. (1997). “Controlling Vandalism: The Person-Environment Duet.” In A. Goldstein and J. Conoley (eds.), School Violence Intervention: A Practical Handbook. New York: Guilford Publications. [Full text]
——— (1996). The Psychology of Vandalism. New York: Plenum Press.
Green, M. (1999). The Appropriate and Effective Use of Security Technologies in U.S. Schools: A Guide for Schools and Law Enforcement Agencies. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice.
Greenberg, B. (1969). School Vandalism: A National Dilemma. Menlo Park, Calif.: Stanford Research Institute.
Hampshire Constabulary (2004). “Southampton Safer Schools Project.” Submission for the Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing. [Full text]
Harlan, J., and C. McDowell (1980). “Vindictive Vandalism and the Schools: Some Theoretical Considerations.” Journal of Police Science and Administration 8(4):399–405.
Heaviside, S., C. Rowand, C. Williams, and E. Farris (1998). Violence and Discipline Problems in U.S. Schools, 1996–1997. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. [Full text]
Hope, T. (1986). “School Design and Burglary.” In K. Heal and G. Laycock (eds.), Situational Crime Prevention: From Theory Into Practice. London: Home Office Research and Planning Unit. [Full text]
——— (1982). Burglary in Schools: The Prospects for Prevention. Research and Planning Unit, Paper 11. London: Home Office. [Full text]
Hope, T., and D. Murphy (1983). “Problems of Implementing Crime Prevention: The Experience of a Demonstration Project.” Howard Journal of Penology and Crime Prevention 22(1):38–50.
Houghton, J. (1982). Vandalism and Theft: A Problem for Schools. Research Report 12. Sydney, Australia: New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. [Full text]
International Dark-Sky Association (1997). “Dark-Campus Programs Reduce Vandalism and Save Money.” Information Sheet 54. Tucson, Ariz.: IDA Inc. [Full text]
Kenney, D., and T. Watson (1999). Crime in the Schools: Reducing Fear and Disorder With Student Problem-Solving. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice.
Mayer, G., M. Nafpaktitis, T. Butterworth, and P. Hollingsworth (1987). “A Search for the Elusive Setting Events of School Vandalism: A Correlational Study.” Education and Treatment of Children 10(3):259–270.
National Crime Prevention Council (2003). School Safety and Security Toolkit: A Guide for Parents, Schools, and Community. Washington, D.C.: National Crime Prevention Council. [Full text]
——— (1995). 350 Tested Strategies to Prevent Crime: A Resource for Municipal Agencies and Community Groups. Washington, D.C.: National Crime Prevention Council.
National Education Association (1973). Danger—School Ahead: Violence in the Public Schools. Washington, D.C.: National Education Association.
National Research Council (2004). Fairness and Effectiveness in Policing: The Evidence. Committee to Review Research on Police Policy and Practices. W. Skogan and K. Frydl (eds.). Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
Nicholl, C. (2000). Toolbox for Implementing Restorative Justice and Advancing Community Policing. Washington, D.C.: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. [Full text]
Pablant, P., and J. Baxter (1975). “Environmental Correlates of School Vandalism.” Journal of the American Institute of Planners 41:270-279.
Patterson, K. (1996). “Thwart Computer Theft.” Education Digest 62(2):61–63.
Peel Regional Police (1996). “The Turner-Fenton Project: Reducing School Disorder With CPTED.” Submission for the Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing. [Full text]
Poyner, B. (1984). Design Against Crime: Beyond Defensible Space. Woburn, Mass.: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Sadler, W. (1988). “Vandalism in Our Schools: A Study Concerning Children Who Destroy Property and What To Do About It.” Education 108(4):556–560.
Sampson, R. (2002). False Burglar Alarms. Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Series, No. 5. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. [Full text]
Schneider, T., H. Walker, and J. Sprague (2000). Safe School Design: A Handbook for Educational Leaders: Applying the Principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. Eugene, Ore.: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management.
Sherman, L., D. Gottfredson, D. MacKenzie, J. Eck, P. Reuter, and S. Bushway (1998). Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn’t, What’s Promising.Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. [Full text]
Stoner, G., M. Shinn, and H. Walker (eds). (1991). Interventions for Achievement and Behavior Problems. Silver Spring, Md.: National Association of School Psychologists.
Strang, H. (2002). Crimes Against Schools: The Potential for a Restorative JusticeApproach. Canberra, Australia: Australian National University, Research School of Social Sciences, Law Program.
Trump, K. (1998). Practical School Security: Basic Guidelines for Safe and Secure Schools. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press.
Tygart, C. (1988). “Public School Vandalism: Towards a Synthesis of Theories and Transition to Paradigm Analysis.” Adolescence 23(89):187–200. [Full text]
U.S. National Institute of Education (1977). Violent Schools, Safe Schools: The Safe School Study Report to Congress, Volume 1. Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Institute of Education.
Vestermark, S., and P. Blauvelt (1978). Controlling Crime in the School: A Complete Security Handbook for Administrators. West Nyack, N.Y.: Parker.
Weisel, D. (2002). Graffiti. Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Series, No. 9. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. [Full text]
Yankelovich, D. (1975). “How Students Control Their Drug Crisis.” Psychology Today 9:39–42.
Zeisel, J. (1976). Stopping School Property Damage: Design and Administrative Guidelines to Reduce School Vandalism. Arlington, Va.: American Association of School Administrators.
The quality and focus of these submissions vary considerably. With the exception of those submissions selected as winners or finalists, these documents are unedited and are reproduced in the condition in which they were submitted. They may nevertheless contain useful information or may report innovative projects.
Hartlepool School Watch Scheme, Cleveland Police Department (Middlesbrough, UK), 1999
Hilltop Special School, Northumbria Police (Northumbria, UK), 2004
Southampton Safer Schools Project, Hampshire Constabulary, 2004
School Exclusion Scheme, Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary (Dumfries, Scotland, UK), 2003
The Turner-Fenton Project [Goldstein Award Winner], Peel Regional Police (ON, CA), 1996
Valley School, Cumbria Constabulary, 2004
You may order free bound copies in any of three ways:
Phone: 800-421-6770 or 202-307-1480
Allow several days for delivery.
Send an e-mail with a link to this guide.
Error sending email. Please review your enteries below.