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Should Drawing on the Sidewalk be a Criminal Offense?

A local police department cited teens for drawing on the street with white chalk. Is this good policing, or police going too far?

Doylestown police cited two teenagers this week for .

What they were drawing was not the issue, police said, but when and where they were caught.

"They were doing it at midnight, in the middle of the street," Doylestown Borough Police Chief Jim Donnelly said Thursday. "And, we’ve had several instances of vandalism with the offenders using chalk."

Chalk or no chalk? Were the police right?

On the surface, this seems almost ridiculous, but it follows an approach to policing called the Broken Window Theory. The idea is that if police pursue petty crimes, such as vandalism, it eventually reduces bigger crimes.

In an article titled "Broken Windows" in the March 1982 edition of “The Atlantic Monthly,” the authors wrote:

Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.

Does this still have meaning today? Leave a comment.

 

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Tom Sofield August 11, 2012 at 12:42 AM
From our Facebook page (http://Facebook.com/NewtownPAPatch): "people complain about all the bad stuff kids do, and here is an incident where a kid is acting like a KID and it's wrong?? I think there are more important things to worry about." - Darlene Smiley Hewitt "Is there a curfew?" - Anne Bridget Kowalski McKernan "Well, of course! It's a gateway crime! Let kids draw pictures with chalk on the ground and they might move on to playing hopscotch or even 4 Square! (Um... asking whether kids drawing with sidewalk chalk should be a criminal offense WAS meant as a joke, right?)" - Marion Smith
hal August 11, 2012 at 12:39 PM
U all keep saying KIDS !!! it was 18 yr Boys !! In Street @ Midnight !!!! If he was to get HIT by a CAR would his Family NOT want to SUE everyone including the Twp.. U opened with Kids on Sidewalk YES that is an OK thing ... they are under supervision by family & Friends.. Not 18 yr Olds Running around @ midnight in the DARK in the Middle of the street.. if you take away the Chalk to makes it sound like it is Teenagers being Stupid OR out for trouble...
Jean Nixon August 11, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Very disappointed in the Police Department and local authorities. Is this vandalism ? If this were my children or Grandchildren, I would have appreciated a phone call. ICE. (In Case of Emergency) If the Police Department and local authorities , do not realize, their affects, on the decisions, that , they make against, childhood development , they should contact, someone , in the Federal Government, on the affects. Is this, inner city development ? Early Childhood Development in Bucks County.
Molly August 12, 2012 at 03:48 AM
If they want to make drawing with chalk on a sidewalk, do you know how many kids would be in juvie?
Dan Howard August 12, 2012 at 01:33 PM
I know that we want our kids to be adults at the age of 18yrs....But, they are kids...I rather have KIDS drawing with chalk on sidewalks than at your house committing a burglary..Lets put it in the proper prospective, it's chalk, they had a crazy moment late at night and used chalk.......
Dan Howard August 12, 2012 at 01:39 PM
I used a program to interact with kids (4-18yrs old) and the police called Sidewalk Art Fair. This was using chalk on sidewalks for kids to draw about anything and their views on drugs. Most importantly, they interacted with the police who showed them that we too are human. Most effective and we learned thru chalk art the children view of the world they lived in. Not criticizing the police, was it the first time, were they warned previously, and is it an ongoing problem with citizens calling the police reference kids at night (late) causing problem.........
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