Friday, 29 April 2016 15:02

Have we become numb to vandalism?

Lots of unsightly vandalism all over Limassol Lots of unsightly vandalism all over Limassol

I keep asking myself, ‘Doesn’t anyone care?!’ There’s graffiti on pretty much every bare (or formerly bare) wall there is: on street signs, on shop windows, fences… if they haven’t already been vandalised in some other way. ‘Is it not considered a crime to damage other people’s property?’ I keep wondering.

People tell me it’s a big urban problem all over Europe. I guess I haven’t paid much attention elsewhere. I live near one of Limassol’s big public lyceums; it’s a lovely, quiet space in the evenings and on weekends. People go there to walk their dogs, play basketball and cricket, use the sports field, I go there for what I call my ‘granny jog’… it’s all good.

Except for the way the place is being vandalised– over and over again. A wire fence is cut, then eventually repaired and shortly after it is cut again. The walls are all sprayed with ugly letters and symbols, then eventually repainted and shortly after sprayed again.

I watch those cycles and they are ongoing. It’s almost like a game of ‘Let’s see how long that wall will stay clean and that fence intact.’ But it’s also sad and the whole phenomenon boggles the mind. How angry and frustrated must those (presumably) teenagers be, to damage property to such an extent? Have parents lost control? Or the teachers? Or schools?

And interestingly enough, no one else seems to consider it as shocking as I do. I often get that typical ‘Ah, what to do?’ shoulder shrug or a vague ‘Yes, that’s how it is these days’ smile. I don’t want to go down that ‘When I was young’ path, but surely something’s terribly wrong here?

I sympathise with the offenders who are obviously unhappy about something or at least totally under-challenged, if not bored out of their minds.

A friend who is a counsellor at a public school tells me that ‘Many parents just can’t cope.’ Another one who is a teacher told me that she had recently managed to finally get the parents of a very aggressive child in to see her and realised that the real hero in the whole predicament actually was the child.

And I sympathise with the property owners, who seem to have mostly reached a stage of resignation. They must feel just as frustrated.

I see that the already understaffed police cannot guard schools, but observing the frequency of repair work carried out on those walls and fences I do get thinking, ‘Surely the cost for all this would have paid for a security company’s services?’

Or does it look even worse to have a school protected from its own students than having all walls filled with graffiti and fences torn down? It does boggle the mind — a bit like all that ugly graffiti burdens those walls.

Article as published in the Cyprus Weekly of April 22, 2016 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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