Is 12 too young for graffiti work? No way, says Coast

Max Fleet

A PROPOSAL to give councils the ability to force taggers as young as 12 to remove graffiti has received widespread support throughout the Sunshine Coast.

Local Government Minister David Crisafulli announced the proposed changes by Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie to the Youth Justice Act 1992 and the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 on Sunday.

Offenders aged between 12 and 15 who are charged or admit guilt would be referred to a graffiti removal program, which would be run in conjunction with Youth Justice Services.

Up to $50,000 from the ongoing GrafittiSTOP program would be set aside to pay for supervisors in areas where graffiti removal programs do not already exist.

Caloundra Chamber of Commerce tourism chairman Bill Darby said the business community welcomed any changes that showed a tightening towards a zero tolerance policy.

"While graffiti isn't out of control in areas like Caloundra, it is something that can easily take hold and tends to go through cycles and trends," he said.

University of the Sunshine Coast lecturer in psychology Rachael Sharman said 12- to 15-year-olds were developing rudimentary adult thinking, including the ability to weigh up options and understand consequences.

"They are not so great at impulse control, but that is not a reason for them not to clean up their own mess," Dr Sharman said.

"They have definitely developed the understanding of right and wrong.''

The sentiments were echoed by more than 100 residents who responded to the Daily Facebook group post about the proposed changes.

"If a 12 year old is out and about, able to get hold of paint and wilfully damaging property, they are old enough to accept the consequences," Donna Keam wrote.

Topics:  crime editors picks graffiti law legislation youth crime

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