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Kiro: Tagging law does not need to change

Media Release For immediate release Wednesday 2 March 2008

Children's Commissioner says tagging law does not need to change

The law does not need to be amended to deal with the issue of tagging and graffiti, Children's Commissioner Dr Cindy Kiro said today.

In her Submission on the Summary Offences (Tagging and Graffiti Vandalism) Amendment Bill, Dr Kiro urged the Law and Order Committee considering the Bill to look for long-term, rather than short-term solutions.

"It is my submission that solutions must be broader than the punitive and restrictive measures that are the basis for this Bill," Dr Kiro said.

"Legislation is only one of the tools that should be used for managing tagging and graffiti and New Zealand has some of the most innovative legislative processes for addressing the care and protection needs and offending behaviours of children and young people. I believe these processes, as well as existing provisions within the summary Offences Act, are already in place to deal with this matter.

"I acknowledge that graffiti and tagging can have negative connotations and outcomes for some people however, complex problems such as this, are rarely solved by a simple or black and white response.

"For some people, graffiti and tagging are seen as legitimate art forms. There is history and social commentary behind these art forms.

"I am aware there is strong public opinions regarding the issue of graffiti and tagging and its impact on both public and private spaces. Interestingly, these public spaces are often environments that children and young people are alienated from. I believe that children and young people need to be included in decisions relating to the use of public spaces.

"Moving forward I believe solutions need to appropriately balance the rights of property owners and the rights of children and young people; re-direct anti-social behaviour with adequate support networks for children and young people; look for community-based solutions that suit that community; and enable children and young people to make successful transitions from adolescence to adulthood.

"I have heard from young people on the matter of tagging and graffiti and I believe their voices need to be heard and respected. Most young people in New Zealand are not engaged in vandalism or bad behaviour. They are in fact, leading healthy, normal lives and many of them are doing extraordinary things."

ENDS


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