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Picture this you’re sitting in class minding your own affairs when you notice your arm has a dark stain. Wondering where this mark came from, you look to your desk to see a thick dark line made by a pencil stretched across the desk.
An act of this kind is called vandalism; the action involving the deliberate destruction or damage of public or private property. Vandalism happens in schools everyday and in most cases is never taken seriously.
The smallest act of vandalism can cause a lasting effect on others. You may think it was just a simple act of writing on a desk and that it can be erased, but this is vandalism and that’s what it should be considered. Every act of vandalism in school should be handled in a serious manner.
“Our (Joplin Schools) position is that if minor situations are allowed to go unaddressed then it gives the appearance that any situation would be ignored,” said Jim Hounschell, attendance and safety officer at Joplin High School.
If we allow students to vandalize property now, no matter how simple it is, how do we expect these students to act once they become adults and venture out into the real world where vandalism will not be accepted? We should be sending well-behaved students out into the world, not promoting criminals.
Penalties for vandalism often include repairing the damaged property, paying for someone else to repair the property, fines as high or higher than $500, expulsion from school, detention in a juvenile facility, community service, up to three years on probation and in some cases even jail time.
“Simplest (act of vandalism) would be detention, picking up or cleaning up an area,” said Greg Boyd, Junior principal at JHS. “Biggest long term suspension, pay restoration and criminal charges filed.”
In the state of Missouri, average fines for vandalism are $5,000, average jail time is five years and average probation is two years.
“(Punishment for vandalism) ranges on the degree of the vandalism, anywhere from the replacement cost, to criminal prosecution,” said Boyd.
It would be nice to be able to sit down in class and look down to a clean desk everyday. There have been many times through my high school career that I have looked down to see a desk scribbled on and could swear I had walked into an elementary school classroom. During our high school years we are approaching adulthood, where you would expect maturity to be a major priority. Many teens want to be treated like adults, so we should treat them as such by adding punishment to those who are irresponsible and find it “fun” to vandalize the high school.
“I wish and hope that students will take care of the equipment in our school,” said Boyd. “For example, students have received a 1,600 dollar laptop and need to treat these items with respect and care.”
Administration at Joplin High School has taken a stand against vandalism showing that they disagree with any such act. It’s the job of the students to take a stand just as the administration did and take care of the new Joplin High School.