My oldest daughter never had the urge or “creative” idea to use markers to color her skin, the furniture or the wall. My youngest daughter, however, took after me.
I remember when I was six-years-old and my parents bought me a bed with a headboard shaped like a pink house. I remember holding a crayon in my hand and thinking long and hard before I did it. I had committed vandalism at just the age of six. Perhaps I am being a bit extreme with this example, but all habits must start somewhere. My mother asked me why I colored the doors of the house. I shrugged my shoulders. I, myself, had no idea, except that it was a temptation that I gave into. That was my first and last.
When my youngest daughter colors the wall, I tell her to “Stop, it is a bad thing not to take care of your home and keep it nice.” She stops and she is only two-years-old. Still, sometimes, when I am not around, she sneaks a dabble or two in. It was a temptation that she gave into. So, I give her a wet sponge and she cleans it up.
It was when I swang my daughters at the local park that I noticed vandalism in the nieghborhood. The edges of the swings looked like they had been bitten off by some wild dog.
Tsk,tsk, I thought to myself. Why? I asked myself.
One would think that children would want to keep their neighborhoods neat, clean and beautiful. After all, they live there. It is their home. Then, I wondered if they took care of their homes or were encouraged to do so.
Based upon this analysis of my daughter´s habit, my own childhood memories and the current situation in our society where children vandalize their own neighborhoods, I have to know “What is it that tempts children to vandalize? How is the concept so fascinating like it is a lit lightbulb attracting flies?”
What is vandalism?
According to dictionary.com, it is “deliberately mischievous or malicious destruction or damage of property.”
Examples of vandalism include graffiti, littering, egging and breaking things.
Reasons Children are Attracted to Vandalism.
-Ignorance/Lack of knowledge: Children need to be taught that it is not okay to destroy personal and public properties. They need to be taught to be responsible and to take responsibility for their own actions.
-It feels good to be bad: Often times, to a child, “No” means “Yes.” When you take something away from a child, you cannot only explain why it has been taken away from them without also giving them something to replace that object with, a distraction of sorts. I can take away the marker from my child, but I must give her a doll in return.
-It´s cool to be bad: When vandalism is as common as it is in our society, it becomes a norm for children. When everybody is doing it, then it is uncool not to join everybody. Children are naturally attracted to be part of certain cliqs. It gives them a sense of belonging and individualism is crushed.
-Creative Outlet: Individualism is embraced. A sense of expression is celebrated via painting murals or graffiti artwork in public spaces. It is okay as long as it is permissible/legal. There are projects that children can take part in where such forms of expression in public spaces are permitted.
The Consequences of Vandalism
Consequences include legal punishment, environmental harm and no development in a sense of responsibility.
Why “Vandalism” is Not Okay
All one has to do is think about the consequences and think about his or her personal belongings. In most cases, one would not want their bag spraypainted with a swear word on it or their shoes ripped apart. One would not want their bedroom egged. It´s messy, a big cleaning job and it looks ugly.
“…And do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption,” Qur´an 2:60.