What is vandalism?

  • Vandalism is the act of damaging or destroying public or private properties and services.
  • Vandalism costs public and private agencies a lot of money to repair and replace damaged items.
  • Vandalism to properties and services may cost lives (e.g. public telephone functioning in times of emergency.
  • Vandalism may be carried out alone or in a gang.

Why does vandalism occur?

Reasons include:

  • To get something e.g. money from payphone.
  • To gain entry into prohibited premises.
  • To express ideas and beliefs.
  • To get revenge.
  • To express frustrations against someone or some organisation.
  • To get personal pleasure.
  • To get acceptance from friends and gang members..


Why do teenagers join gangs?

Teenagers join gangs for various reasons including:

  • Excitement.
  • Prestige / Status.
  • Protection.
  • Chance to make money and a living.
  • Sense of belonging.
  • Being forced to join (rarely).

What are other behaviours associated with vandalism?

  • Teenagers who are involved in vandalism often have personal problems which may be :
    • Emotional.
    • Mental.
    • Social.
    • Physical.
  • Some problems that may lead to acts of vandalism are :
    • Skipping classes or school.
    • Loitering (lepak) around in public places during and outside school hours.
    • Oversleeping in the mornings and returning home late.
    • Poor social skills.
    • Seeking negative attention.
    • Little contact with family or friends.
    • Depression and other mental health problems.
    • Family problems.
    • Friendship problems.
    • School problems.
    • Problems with authorities and the law.
    • Substance use and abuse.

What are the consequences of being a teen vandal?

  • They tend to grow up into serious criminals who may also be violent offenders.
  • They are also usually involved in other negative behaviours such as sexual harassment, aggression, theft and environmental pollution (e.g. inappropriate throwing of rubbish).
  • They tend to get into trouble with school authorities.
  • They tend to have negative school reports and this negatively affects their chances of succeeding in life.

How can you cope with urges to commit vandalism?

  • Understand that it is a criminal offence.
  • Ask yourself :
    • How will destroying this property help you?
    • What are the consequences of you damaging this property?
    • What can you do to get help?
    • Who can you call for help?
  • Manage anger that is motivating the urge to vandalise. (See Anger management. )
  • Cultivate appropriate and healthy problem solving skills. (See Decision making and Problem solving. )
  • Find other more appropriate methods of problem solving to replace the need for vandalism. (See Social skills and Communication skills )
  • Seek help from others when faced with problems.
  • Keep yourself occupied with healthier and low-risk activities (e.g. exercise, sports, hobbies and volunteer work).
  • Stay away from friends who vandalise.
  • Monitor your urges on paper and try to minimise your behaviour bit by bit.
  • See a counselor or a psychologist for help.

Last Reviewed : 27 April 2012
Content Writer : Prof. Madya Dr. Alvin Ng Lai Oon
Reviewer : Dr. Wan Fadhilah bt. Wan Ismail
: Dr. Salmiah bt. Md. Sharif