University of Texas Dallas head of criminology Lynne Veiraitis and criminology doctoral student Arthur Vasquez recently published their study on teens and tagging in the journal Deviant Behavior.
“By going out and talking with active taggers, we were able
to gain better insight into why they do it,” Vasquez said. “From a policy point
of view, it is important to understand the taggers’ motivations. If cities try
to reduce graffiti by increasing the punishments, then they are not actually
addressing the underlying motivations of why they do it in the first place.”
The two researchers interviewed 25 Dallas taggers. The
taggers painted their tags -- but not gang-related images -- on buildings and public
property. The youths indicated that they paint graffiti because they are bored
and stressed. They also wanted to be recognized for their artistic talents.
The youths felt that no one was hurt when they defaced
buildings with tags and some justified their graffiti by saying they were
providing work for the cleanup crews. They believed that the tags were easy to
"They’re teenagers, and they get bored,” Vieraitis said.
“They find a lot of satisfaction in tagging. It’s exciting, it’s
status-enhancing and it becomes addicting.”
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