On Wednesday on my way to work I was shocked to see that the Junior Achievement's sign had been spray-painted - I'm not sure if it's a word or "gang" symbol, but either way it was clearly meant to deface the sign.

Graffiti has been one of those things I have never been able to understand even going through the rebellious days of teenager-dom.

When the kids at Beal took to the streets to protest what they felt was police brutality, I was proud of them - I didn't know if it they were right or wrong in their position but protesting is an important democratic right and good on them for taking to the streets.

And then some idiots decided scrolling "FTP" on the bus shelters would be a good idea (If you don't know what this stands for, the last two letters are "the police"). Their cause lost any credibility it had with me instantly - it was probably the work of 2 or 3 misguided people but it reflected so poorly on the situation that I stopped caring.

The punks that vandalized the Junior Achivement sign were obviously intending harm, whether to "society" or to Junior Achivement itself - I don't know. The sad irony in this is that the people at Junior Achievement work so hard and have dedicated YEARS of their lives to the betterment of youth and their ability to be prepared for work. Surely these kind, caring souls did not deserve to have their sign vandalized and it breaks my heart.

Upon reflecting on the graffiti artists themselevs, I can only imagine that it is a cry for attention - that those performing the act have severe problems with their life that they feel that lashing out is the only way they can compensate. I truly feel bad for them that JA's sign was the outlet for their emotional hurt. By looking at it this way I have marginalized - not replaced - the anger felt towards these individuals.

I think it's important to recognize the wonderful young men and women that pass through the doors of JA every year, as well as the hard-working volunteers, and staff at JA - and that this vandalism is the act of one or two people who need help and NOT a reflection on the excellent work that JA does in our community.

It breaks my heart to think of how the JA staff felt seeing their sign so disfigured. Unfortunately I don't think there's any magical solution (banning sharpies certainly didn't help) - I think as parents we need to educate our children on the hurt that this type of attack brings against an individual or an organization. I think it's important that we discuss how immature and infantine disfiguring someone else's property is - maybe if we give them healthy outlets for their rebellion (I vote Heavy Metal personally) then we can curb what is an ugly facet of our society.

In closing - I would like to re-iterrate that the staff at JA should not take this attack personally or let it affect the passion with which they attack the needs of our community.