Parents, do you know what your teenagers are doing?
The reason we ask is the Town of Okotoks has experienced a surge in graffiti vandalism this month, one that has forced parks staff to clean up more than 200 tags a week throughout June. The Town says all areas are being targeted, but the location of greatest concern right now is the skateboard park.
Two hundred tags a week is a staggering amount of graffiti for a town of this size, and it’s forcing civic staff to divert from regular duties to remedy it on an ongoing basis. It’s an absolute waste of tax dollars to have to clean up after a bunch of yahoos who find enjoyment in defacing public property.
Town bylaws include fines of up to $2,500 per incident for adults and $1,000 for youth but the likelihood of any kind of monetary punishment putting an end to this spate of vandalism seems unlikely. Rather, it’s going to require parents to do more, to ensure that when little Johnny says he’s off to meet friends at the skate park that his backpack isn’t filled with cans of spray paint.
We’ve seen examples of graffiti all over town, on pathways, benches, buildings and more, and it certainly looks like the work of the teenage mind, the markings so juvenile and idiotic that only someone of that age would find them amusing. This isn’t a case of gangs marking territory, but rather young kids whose still-developing minds derive pleasure from adorning pathways with images of body parts. Banksy, they’re not.
Yes, teens will be teens, but there are limits to what we can accept in that regard, and having to expend tax dollars to routinely clean up after them exceeds that tolerance level. This graffiti is all around town because some people's kids put it there, which means it’s time for parents to step up and do us all a favour.