This column was published in the NT Sun on January 15 2019 under the heading Vandalism still scourge.


The recent trashing of Ludmilla School (NT News 5/1/2019) is a jolting reminder of what seems to be an everlasting saga. Schools are often the prime target of vandals. The threat to schools is constant.

History confirms that over time, every school in our urban, town and rural areas has been affected by wanton damage and vandalism. Since self government in 1978, the bill for damage repair has run to tens of millions of dollars.

Barrier fences, wrought iron gates, sensors and cv cameras have played some part in reducing the incidence of security breach. However, the matter is one that continues to impact on our schools.

There seems to be no end point to these reckless and uncaring behaviours by perpetrators. The break-in at Ludmilla, which damaged quite a number of classrooms is just the latest in 40 years of destructive behaviour wrought on NT schools. Sadly, schools will continue to be the target of vandals as we move into the 2019 school year.

These attacks on our schools, lead to feelings of student and staff desolation and insecurity. They become the victims of senseless acts, violated by damage to their possessions and school work.

There has at times been evidence of Faginlike behaviour behind these breaches. On some occasions adults have encouraged young children to break into schools, in order to steal property. The issue of stealing goods in order to exchange them for drugs may also motivate a percentage of break-ins.

There is no doubt however, that many of the breaches are the result of children, many of them quite young, causing senseless damage. They wander the streets late into the night, breaking into and entering into schools and other premises, creating a mess for others to clean up.

The irony is that if caught, little happens to these miscreants. They are often taken home to parents who don’t know where they have been or what they have done. Restitution for physical damage is never forthcoming.

Judicial consequences for those who proceed to juvenile court or into youth justice are generally perceived as being ineffective and limp. The move toward raising the age of accountability wrong-doing from 10 to 12 or 14 years, defies sense and sensibility; the proposed change will exacerbate the problem.

Those who commit these acts know full well they are doing wrong. There can be no justification for their actions. The victims of school violation, the students and school staff are the ones deserving empathy and consideration.

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