Yakima County administrator: Roughly 60-70% of graffiti done by kids

Yakima County administrator: Roughly 60-70% of graffiti done by kids »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Getting rid of graffiti in the Yakima Valley: It's a goal that seems elusive. Part of the battle involves knowing who's behind it. KIMA learned that most taggers here are just kids.

April Stadler lives in northeast Yakima. Her white Mustang was tagged in her driveway about a month ago.

The culprit, she thinks, was a kid.

"It is hard to find anything to do around this town, and they just want to either be known or have something to do, or they're just simply bored."

April's not off-base.

Yakima County Court Administrator Robyn Berndt guesses 60 to 70 percent of tagging in Yakima is done by juveniles - and that a fairly high percentage of those kids are affiliated or associated with gangs.

"They're really governed a lot by peer pressure, and if they're getting involved in gangs, that's one of the first things that they do, is they tag their area, their neighborhood. This is my neighborhood."

One of the county's missions is to get them to stop. Its restorative community service program has kids who are caught clean up graffiti instead.

In the first nine months of 2013, 67 kids were picked up for minor graffiti offenses. That's down from 2012 and 2011.

To push it even lower, Berndt says kids need more supervised activities. Parents also need to be involved.

"Nobody has the right to destroy the property of another person. They need to be hearing that message from the time they're old enough to talk."

She also says we shouldn't be so quick to write them off as troublemakers.

"The kids that are doing the graffiti and the tagging are not all bad kids. We need to get the word out to those kids that we do care about them and that they are part of the community. They should be proud of their community, too."

More pride, fewer paint cans.

Authorities say parents have a vested interest in the problem. They can be on the hook for the damage caused by their kids.