The markings of decay are vandalism

 

Graffiti may not be the most pressing issue for San Benito
County, but it does have devastating effects on our community.
Graffiti may not be the most pressing issue for San Benito County, but it does have devastating effects on our community.

You’ve seen the markings, from the unincorporated areas of the county to Hollister to San Juan Bautista. It’s the words, colors and shapes drawn or scratched on buildings, walls, signs and other surfaces. It’s vandalism and it’s against the law.

Youths use graffiti to mark territory, send messages and intimidate rival gangs and community residents. But graffiti is not just the work of gang members.

Taggers are juveniles who are not necessarily affiliated with gangs but still take part in graffiti vandalism. They seek recognition from their peers for their daring, defacing vandalism.

But only 10 percent of graffiti is thought to be gang-related; the remaining 90 percent is done by taggers. And most graffiti vandals are between the ages of 14 and 17, but some are younger.

While most graffiti is not associated with gang activity, this vandalism has a cascading effect on all of us.

Graffiti costs taxpayers more than $7 billion a year in clean-up costs. Another $8 billion is spent on law enforcement and court costs. It drains our tax dollars, funds that could be used for schools, roads, parks and other community improvements.

Graffiti also decreases residents’ feeling of safety in a community. Neighborhoods with graffiti have a decrease in property values and a loss of business growth.

And graffiti sends a signal that no one cares, which attracts other forms of crime and delinquency to the neighborhood.

Therefore, it’s up to parents, law enforcement, government officials and residents to stop it now before it becomes a major problem for San Benito County.

One such plan of attack is a new program that will be introduced to the Hollister City Council by Councilman Robert Scattini.

The plan features proactive involvement from a cross-section of the community, including the police, sheriff’s and probation departments, the district attorney’s office, schools, businesses and residents.

It takes all of us to get involved. It takes all of us to care before it is too late.

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