The term graffiti has been adapted to mean any type of writings on a surface area that have been scratched, painted or marked. These writings, which are typically perceived from a negative point of view, may be something as small as doodles on a paper or something as large as paintings on a wall or the side of a building. Because graffiti is often part of gang culture and identified as criminal activity, when graffiti enters into a school the school's atmosphere and graffiti deters from a positive educational environment. In this study, five School Resource Officers from urban secondary schools in Utah were interviewed. These interviews were conducted in order to better understand Utah School Resource Officers' experiences and their perceptions of the most common types of graffiti being created inside their school building; what (if any) disciplinary measures are typically applied when those responsible for graffiti are identified; and what strategies are used to prevent future incidents of graffiti. Their perceptions and recommendations are considered and summarized to assist other school communities who face similar challenges with in-school graffiti. Overall, School Resource Officers' feedback indicates that graffiti is a major problem in public schools, particularly for high schools that have gang related graffiti. Implications for school-based interventions include the following recommendations made by the participating School Resource Officers. They emphasized the importance of closely monitoring and supervising students during school hours; rapidly removing graffiti in situations where graffiti is displayed; and clearly stating and enforcing consequences for students who participate in creating graffiti in schools. School Resource Officers also noted the importance of building trust with students and providing opportunities of anonymous reporting.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





School Resource Officer, graffiti, gang, tagging, intervention, prevention, adolescents, high school