Tagging Leaves Its Mark at a Chicago Public High School

Tagging Leaves Its Mark at a Chicago Public High School

By Andy Garcia, Bryan Garcia, Jaime Melero and Jennifer Zagal, Hancock High School Juniors and Seniors

A couple of months into this school year, the staff at Hancock High School decided to close the boys’ bathrooms on the second, third, and fourth floors because of the increase in vandalism. There was also the tension between Hancock and Curie high schools.  While nothing major occurred from this, two major differences resulted from this.

The first one was the uniform. Most students welcomed this new change from khaki pants to jeans. School administrators did not want Hancock students with khaki pants to be targets outside of school.  The second was the accessibility to the bathrooms. This increase of tagging caused punishment to most of the male students in school. When the males at John Hancock High School needed to use the bathroom, they had to form a line on the first floor and be checked by security so no vandalism occurred.

Not only does vandalism occur in bathrooms, but it also occurs in classrooms, hallways, stairways and all around the school. An example would be in English teacher Ms. Paleothodoros’s classroom.  “Unfortunately, the desks (and even the walls) in my classroom have been tagged. It’s sad to see because that signifies that particular students are careless of their actions, and I think of it as a sign of disrespect as well," said Ms. Paleothodoros.

Vandalism can become a bigger problem in our school because “it represents a growing attitude of I don’t care.  If our school becomes a place where people don’t care, then that can lead to students not doing well in their classes anymore, and it can potentially become a safety issue,” said Ms. Paleothodoros.

The schools new doors got tagged the same day they got put up. How is it that people can get away with that so easily? Pat Ade, a school security guard says, ”There are cameras in this school, even though some students might think there aren’t any.” So it’s simple to say that adding more cameras could make things easier.”

While opinions may be mixed, one student (who prefers to remain anonymous) wants to show his disgust towards this scenario. When asked why he started tagging, he responded, “To express my thoughts, not to get into some pointless argument about where I can or cannot write. Why am I going to get caught up for fighting someone that supposedly tagged our doors? It doesn’t really affect me nor do I really care.”  While he did seem indifferent about the subject, he did say this, “I just don’t want to see that garbage on the doors.” While the problem of vandalism isn’t new to Hancock, the severity of it is.

Ms. Paleothodoros said, “I don’t want vandalism to get mixed up with sketching and some work that can be considered art. But when students decide to draw or tag on property that doesn’t belong to them, it then becomes vandalism.”

Not only is the school Hancock affected but the whole community as well. The vandalism does not only occur behind these school doors.  They actually start small here and go bigger out into the neighborhood. They follow up onto the neighbor’s garages, fences and even the sides of their homes.

Locking the bathrooms did not help because the students would get mad. Some would have to come from the 4th floor all the way down to the 1st floor just to use the restroom. This goes against common sense and it also wastes time for the students as well as the security guards when they should be walking making sure the students go to class. This only lasted a week so it made no difference at all.

A better and more reasonable solution would be to make the person who tagged on school property to clean it up. Some people may disagree by saying that we won’t know who it is, but the school does have cameras and the taggers use their names. All they have to do is figure out who it is, which would be no problem since Hancock is a small school.

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    This did not last a week, the bathrooms continue to be locked.

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