UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Juvenile vandalism in the City of Vancouver : an exploratory study of juvenile vandalism as found in the City of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Fairbank, John Keith


Vandalism, as one facet of juvenile delinquency, has received scant attention from social scientists in North America. This reflects the relatively low proportion of all delinquent acts which can be described as "vandalism" on the one hand and the efforts of social scientists to develop all-encompassing theories of delinquency causation on the other. This study has proceeded on the premise advanced by Alfred Kahn in his book, Planning Community Service for Children in Trouble, that community service must not be built on the assumption that delinquents are a homogeneous group. Kahn maintains that our efforts will be more fruitful if we develop an awareness of the heterogenity of the group. Therefore, this study represents an initial, exploratory study of juvenile vandalism to determine what, if any, factors set juveniles who indulge in vandalism apart from other delinquents. A descriptive-diagnostic research design suited the exploratory nature of the study and permitted the use of the experience survey method. A survey of the literature on juvenile delinquency gave focus and direction to the study. The questionnaires developed for the study were based to a large extent upon theories extracted from the literature. A survey of the literature, questionnaires, the examination of records, interviews, and case studies were the methods utilized. Data was obtained from law-enforcement agencies and from public and private business organizations in the City of Vancouver. Vandalism occurs in all areas of the community and in all social classes. Predominantly a group activity of younger male juveniles, vandalism is characterized by contagion from group member to group member and from group to group. Vandal acts occur in areas or situations isolated in various ways from direct observation. Reports on the incidence of vandalism from non-law-enforcement sources in the City indicate that this crime occurs more frequently in middle-class and upper-class areas but the juvenile court records show that the majority of juveniles appearing in Court reside in the lower-class areas. These findings indicate the middle-class attitude of the official court system and the prevalence of delinquency in the more affluent class of society. The need for detailed research into the delinquent activities of the upper-class juveniles pleads to be recognized. Until society permits further research into delinquent behaviour to focus equally upon all strata of society, complete comprehension of the act of juvenile vandalism in the City of Vancouver will not be achieved.

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