With most graffiti crimes performed by mid-adolescent teens aged between 12 and 25 years of age (Source: AIC), it makes sense to direct graffiti prevention programs towards primary school children. The majority of offenders are introduced to graffiti through friends, often succumbing to peer pressure or the need to ‘fit in’. These offenders then continue performing graffiti vandalism as they strong feelings of self-esteem and enjoyment. Most graffiti vandals are males, however what may alarm many is that these offenders come from a broad range of social backgrounds.

The Victorian State Government has provided over $2.7 million towards 153 graffiti prevention projects since 2011. These grants are applied for by the local government who in most cases are left cleaning up the mess. Local governments then work with schools, with the aid of Youth Resource Workers and Police to identify and communicate with at-risk youth.

Successful graffiti prevention programs have veered away from lecture-styles of teaching. Hands-on practical activities were found to develop interest and engagement (Source: Crime Prevention).

One example involved the students of Wanganui Park Secondary College in Shepparton. Greater Shepparton City Council utilised stakeholders from Victoria Police, a local urban artist/youth worker and a film production company (read more). Instead of instructing students what they shouldn’t do, the focus was on creating a ‘light-bulb moment’ for participants. Students were taught to handle peer pressure and use their artistic abilities in a positive and financially rewarding way. The ramifications of obtaining a criminal record on career and travel were further reinforced. Students then demonstrated their learnings in the DVD ‘Your Move’, which displays scenes of children under arrest for graffiti vandalism.

Involving police in graffiti prevention programs (such as the aforementioned in Shepparton) is a key step to its success. Not only can police explain real-life situations to students, their perceptions and attitudes towards police and the law are often improved (read more).

Another success story is the Bairnsdale Aboriginal Art mural, which was organised by the East Gippsland Shire Council (read more). A central car park wall was requiring monthly graffiti removal. This lead to significant expenditure as well as locals feeling unsafe in the area. Local Aboriginal artist and mentor Alfie Hudson educated VCAL students on the local Koori history and culture. Alfie and the students painted a mural depicting this culture on the problematic wall. This project engaged the students and achieved positive outcomes for the community. The mural has not been tagged and less graffiti vandalism has occurred in the town centre.

There is one key consideration when implementing a mural. Some have implemented murals with graffiti-like scrawl. This is basically legal graffiti which has been painted by an artist with permission from the property owner. The problem is that this glamourises graffiti and encourages impressionable youth to try and replicate it. Murals must contain tasteful artwork with multiple colours as this provides a poor surface for graffiti to stand out.

The Graffiti Eaters have been keeping Australian communities and schools graffiti-free for over 40 years. Find out more about our graffiti removal services for local government, schools, commercial and residential properties, or request a quote today!