Restroom Vandalism and the Pride Factor
Dr. Tom Keating, founder of projectCLEAN (Citizens, Learners and Educators Against Neglect), has more than 15 years of experience working on improving the safety, cleanliness and hygiene of school restrooms.
He believes that in order to dispel apathy about graffiti/vandalism issues in school restrooms — which is all-too-prevalent among students, teachers and school administrators — caring adults need to discuss these problems with students with the goal of instilling pride in their school, including its restrooms and their appearance.
“There are always going to be some [graffiti/vandalism] problems,” Keating notes realistically. “[But] you’re not looking for perfection, just turning down the problem.”
The Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, has had some success in reducing vandalism using Keating’s suggestions.
The school’s principal, Darryl Williams, and other school administrators reached out to the school’s Student Government Association and other student leadership organizations, asking them to play a leadership role in encouraging students to have more respect for their school, as well as to emphasize the positive things about both the school facility itself and its students.
“I always go to the students; they are our best cheerleaders [for the school],” Williams says. “In spite of the few who do things we do not stand for, this approach has helped instill pride in our students and reduced [the graffiti/vandalism problems] in our restrooms.”
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