The Broken Window Theory was developed by George Kelling and JamesWilson in 1982. It is a criminological theory that holds thatconstantly maintaining and monitoring an urban environment helps toprevent petty crimes such as public drinking and vandalism. GeorgeKelling and James Wilson maintain that serious crimes start as publicdisorder. As such, the Broken Window Theory seeks to be proactiverather than reactive when addressing the issue of crime. Additionally, the theory further holds that the prevalence ofdisorder creates fear in the minds of the citizens that convincesthem that the area is unsafe. What follows this fear of crime is thatpeople withdraw from the unkempt area, giving room to seriouscriminals to cause havoc in the community. When people do notfrequent an area, the social controls that prevent potentialcriminals from committing crime are weakened as offenders feel thatnobody is watching them. I come from Crane, Texas. In my town, roadswith untrimmed fences, abandoned cars, deserted houses, and graffitisdo not attract many passersby giving rogue teenagers and criminalsthe opportunity they need for their illegal activities. In thispaper, I will present the three strategies that I will utilize toclean up my neighborhood.
First, I will contact the local authority to report an abandoned carthat has been on our street for the last three days. Apart fromendangering the lives of children who may opt to play near it, theabandoned car may provide a hiding place for criminals. Whiledeveloping the Broken Window Theory, Wilson and Kelling found that ina town where there exists disorder a car is destroyed immediately itsowner leaves it. When a car is left in a quiet and well-maintainedneighborhood, it is hardly ransacked unless it appears damaged.According to Kelling and Wilson, "Unattended property becomesfair game for people out for fun” (1). People are enticed intodestroying unattended properties as they view it as fun. After a fewmonths or years, what started as a desire to have a good time turnsthe area around deserted vehicles into a frightening and inhospitablejungle.
Secondly, I will put a trash can next to our mailbox for individualswalking past our home to empty any waste they may have instead oflittering our neighborhood. Research conducted by Keizer andColleagues found that prosocial behavior tends to spread when peopleobserve other individuals observing order.Keizer and colleagues say, “Observing other people’srespect for one particular norm makes it more likely that otheronlookers follow other norms as well” (1). As such, my action ofplacing a trash can on the road next to our home will go a long wayin ensuring that people avoid littering the neighborhoods.
Thirdly, I will help my neighbor remove the small graffiti on hisfence. Keizer and colleagues conducted an experiment to test theBroken Window Theory. In the experiment, Keizer and his colleaguesplaced a graffiti prohibition sign in the middle of an alley wallthat was used by individuals to park their bicycles. The researchersattached fliers with elastic bands to the bicycles. As such, theowners had to remove the fliers for them to use the handlebars. Theresearchers counted the number of littered fliers on the ground orhanging on bicycles. In the same setting, the researchers replacedthe anti-graffiti sign with graffiti. Jeana Bryner reports thefindings of the research conducted by Keizer and his colleagues.According to Bryner, Keizer and his colleagues after monitoring about80 bicyclists found that 69% of them littered the space next to thealley wall with the graffiti compared to just 33% in the non-graffitiscenario. In the long run, the area that has only a single graffitiends up with several of them. The presence of graffiti is one of thesigns that points to a looming or an already pervasive crime problem.
In conclusion, though crime is not widespread in my town of Cranebeing proactive in addressing factors that favor delinquency will goa long way in dealing with the issue of public disorder. First, Iwill start by helping my neighbor clean up a small graffiti on hisfence. This will prevent a case where more graffiti are applied onthe nearby buildings and consequently attracting more criminalactivities such as illegal drinking. In line with the Broken WindowTheory, I will also seek to place a trash can on the road that passesnear our home to ensure that people not only avoid littering the areabut also desist from breaking other norms such as applying graffition other people’s properties. Lastly, research shows that thepresence of unattended properties encourages even law abidingcitizens to violate social norms. On this note, I will contact thetown council to come and collect a car that has been on our streetfor the last three days, and no one seems to know its owner’swhereabouts.
Bryner, Jeana. “Graffiti Triggers Crime and Loitering.” LiveScience, November 2008.http://www.livescience.com/7599-graffiti-triggers-crime-littering.html
Keizer, Kees,Siegwart Lindenberg, and Linda Steg. "The importance ofdemonstratively restoring order." PloSone 8.6(2013): e65137.
Kelling, George, Wilson James. “Broken Windows: The Police andNeighborhood Safety. “The Atlantic, March 1982. Web.http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/03/broken-windows/304465/