Family First NZ says that the answer to the tagging problem starts at home.
“Behind every long-term tagger is a family that either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the whereabouts or activities of their child, or is unable to control them,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “The lack of active supervision is a key factor in a young person developing a career in tagging our neighbourhoods.”
“The ability of a young person to spend hours, often in the middle of the night, walking around the community with peers tagging fences, breaking into school grounds, and climbing on commercial buildings shows that there is a lack of supervision and accountability on the actions of those young people.”
“While fines provide some disincentive (although it begs the question of who will end up paying the $2,000 fine incurred by a young person) and the restriction on the sale of the offending materials will make it slightly more difficult for these taggers, the most effective and cost-efficient way to stop tagging is to require, and support, parents to monitor the whereabouts of their children.”
A US national longitudinal study of adolescent health reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and a similar study from Edinburgh University, found that the active supervision of parents at key times during the day substantially decreased the likelihood that the child would get into at-risk or anti-social behaviour.
“Unfortunately, the drive to get both parents into the workforce has not helped either. There are many ‘latch-key’ kids with time on their hands.”
“Part of the problem is also that these young people have been taught their rights, and this has undermined the efforts of parents, police and communities to take appropriate action to restrict this anti-social behaviour,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Taggers will simply get around these proposals, and we won’t ultimately solve the problem of graffiti until we place the emphasis on strengthening families to be concerned enough and equipped to monitor the activities of the young person.”