The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


May 4, 2012

Shots from the Hip: It's time to reclaim our playgrounds

MIDDLEBURG -- “Daddy, what does this say?”

Typically, these five words are music to my ears -- letting me know that my daughter is still wildly curious about the world around her and that she still sees me as the key to unlocking these mysteries.

Except this was one scenario I didn’t want to explain. We were at a local community playground just a few days ago, and the phrase she wanted translated was graffiti written in black Sharpie. It was obscene and not something I was going to explain to my daughter.

Of course, this isn’t an isolated incident. Knuckleheads, it seems, live everywhere. And they have transcended time.

The issue here is that the carefree proclamations of love that kids carved into trees a decade or two ago have morphed into obscene pictures and words written in black marker over the same slides and swing sets used by young children.

Gangs, and wannabes, mark playgrounds with symbols and threats like a male dog lifts its leg to proclaim its territory.

The question is: How can we stop this defiling of public property -- this infiltration of garbage into a zone of our communities that should be as innocent as the children who love playing there?

Park crews do their best to clean up the graffiti, only for it to be replaced soon afterward.

Perhaps it is time for us to band together and report any suspicious activity and loitering teenagers and young adults to the authorities -- to make it a point to mark this territory as ours, for the welfare of our children and grandchildren.

How do you suggest we tackle a problem that just seems to be getting worse?

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