School Vandalism: Individual and Social Context

By Horowitz, Tamar; Tobaly, David | Adolescence, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

School Vandalism: Individual and Social Context


Horowitz, Tamar, Tobaly, David, Adolescence


Various disciplines such as psychology and sociology have examined vandalism from different perspectives, and it is difficult to reach consensus on a definition. Nevertheless, some of the definitions have common elements, such as: "an intentional act aimed at damaging or destroying an object that is another's property" (Moser, 1992); "a voluntary degradation of the environment with no profit motive whatsoever, the results of which are considered damage by the actor(s) as well as the victim in relation to the norms that govern the situation" (Goldstein, 1996, p. 19); and "the willful or malicious destruction, injury, disfigurement, or defacement of property without the consent of the owner" (Casserly, Bass, & Garrett, 1982, p. 4). Most of the definitions highlight intentionality, destructiveness, and property ownership. This form of destructive behavior is thus motivated not by profit but by other factors. Cohen (1984) suggests that acts of vandalism are motivated by anger, boredom, catharsis, erosion of alrea dy damaged objects, or aesthetic factors.

Research on vandalism is divided into two categories. Some studies look at vandalism from the point of view of the individual who commits it: personal traits, difficulties in adjusting to society at large and to school in particular, and emotional problems. This perspective is derived mainly from epidemiological studies. Other studies look at vandalism in a broader social context. Research on vandalism as a social phenomenon began in the 1930s with ecological studies by the Chicago School. Vandalism was explained as a malaise of modern society that is characterized by alienation and meaninglessness. Zimbardo (1969) used the term deindividuation to describe a situation in which individuals lose their uniqueness. According to Zimbardo, the malaise of modern society is related to a high level of social mobility, rapid growth, and instability. Erikson looked at modern society from the point of view of adolescents who experience social mores and values inconsistently and therefore become involved in nonnormative b ehavior.

According to Casserly, Bass, and Garrett (1982), the social explanations of vandalism until the 1970s were too amorphous and unfocused; consequently, their explanatory power was limited. A new line of explanations began to look at specific institutions, one of them being school. Pioneering research on school violence and school vandalism--the Safe School Study--was conducted in the mid-1970s (U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, 1978). The study, carried out in approximately 25,000 schools throughout the United States, examined objective parameters as well as subjective ones (i.e., students' perceptions). The objective parameters found to have an effect on school vandalism were school size, age of the student population, teacher turnover, and parental support for the school's discipline policy. The salient subjective parameters were the students' views of how their teachers function (e.g., how fair they are, whether they use grades to exert power over students) and whether school rules are unambi guous (U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, 1978).

Following this major study, research was conducted that focused on the connection between vandalism and school effectiveness and climate. It was found that when school climate was not positive and did not enhance students' social welfare, the rate of vandalism was high, and when the school did not effectively promote learning, vandalism tended to increase (Zeisel, 1977). It was also found that vandalism increased in schools where students did not have a sense of belonging.

Some researchers have emphasized teacher-student interaction as a causal variable (Heller & White, 1975). Others have noted that tolerance, respect for others, and motivation to achieve are important in mitigating vandalism (Dust, 1984; Geller, 1992). In an Israeli study, Horowitz and Amir (1981) found that students who were involved in vandalism were socially marginal at school; they felt alienated from school and were low achievers though not necessarily low in terms of competence. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

School Vandalism: Individual and Social Context
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.