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School Anti-Vandalism Task Force
The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District has assembled a community task force to address the problem of school vandalism and to reduce vandalism in other areas of the community.
After-hours vandalism costs the school district about $300,000 a year in direct costs and much more in indirect costs. School-hours vandalism (i.e. damage to desks, furniture, lockers and text books) costs are in the $150,000 range. In addition to the financial impact, vandalism also has a demoralizing effect on students and staff.
The task force is made up of representatives from Citizens on Patrol, Principals' and Vice-Principals' Association, District Parent Advisory Council, Canadian Union of Public Employees (Local 703), the Corporation of the District of Maple Ridge, the Corporation of the District of Pitt Meadows, Parks and Leisure Services, the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Times Newspaper, the RCMP, the Maple Ridge Fire Department, the Board of School Trustees and School District Administration. In addition, the task force is working in cooperation with Crime Prevention Coordinators, Community Policing Committees and Translink's Anti-Graffiti Program.
Four-Pronged Anti-Vandalism Strategy
The task force has adopted a four-pronged strategy:
- making schools less susceptible to acts of vandalism, including the use of window shutters, extra lighting, video surveillance, grounds cleanup, and regular security patrols;
- mobilizing the school community, including anti-vandalism education programs and activities for students, such as painting wall murals;
- mobilizing the surrounding community, including a 24-hour vandalism hotline for school neighbours and coordinating with community groups which have an anti-crime focus; and
- setting up a youth program for young people who loiter around schools in the evening hours.
A number of communication tools have been developed to help the community keep a watchful eye over school grounds and buildings. A key-tag and large fridge magnet will be distributed to the neighbours of frequently vandalized schools.
The task force has developed a public poster to be displayed throughout the community to raise public awareness of the problem and what it being done to address it.
A poster-based in-school discussion guide has been developed.
The task force's logo is being displayed prominently in schools and throughout the community.
Student forum with representatives from every public school in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows met together earlier this year at Thomas Haney Centre to discuss what students could do to help prevent vandalism.
Each school is developing its own implementation plan.