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Lessons in vandalism important

No newspaper or other news outlet should attempt to tell parents how to raise their children, or what values to try to instill in them.

That’s a personal decision and responsibility that comes with being a parent.

However, there is nothing wrong with news reporting that, in addition to delivering facts, statistics and opinions, is able to convey guidance “between the lines” to try to help families avoid problems and heartache on their children’s road toward adulthood.

Mirror reporter Greg Bock succeeded in that opportunity in his Feb. 20 article, “Police arrest graffiti suspect.”

The article dealt with apprehension of one of the individuals believed to be responsible for a Dec. 29 “graffiti spree” that victimized about 50 properties in an area stretching from the KNY Fitness building on the 900 block of Lexington Avenue to Cherry Avenue and from Lloyd Street to Ninth Street.

According to Bock’s article, police estimated the damage at approximately $12,000 — a significant toll targeted at innocent people and businesses.

A Jan. 8 Mirror editorial made the point that “Altoona is a nice city” that “doesn’t deserve to be turned into an eyesore” … by individuals immature and irresponsible who get kicks out of causing damage and inconvenience to others or their properties.

The editorial also observed that, “hopefully, the courts will have the full opportunity to convey that message during sentencing of those responsible.”

Presumably, that will happen, based on the tenacity of members of the Altoona Police Department who have continued to pursue and uncover leads that produced evidence leading to the first arrest, as well as details indicating the involvement of several others in the graffiti spree.

Also worthy of praise are those whose surveillance cameras captured images that were valuable in the vandal-identification process, as well as anyone else who was able to provide even small bits of evidence that loomed large in the work toward cracking the case.

But the important message to parents and others that wasn’t stated specifically in Bock’s article — but which was tucked between the lines for thoughtful readers to notice — was that children growing up need to be reminded at an early age of the range of unwanted consequences likely for inflicting harm on others, whether directly or indirectly.

Someone is going to have to pay the bill for what occurred during the early morning hours of Dec. 29. Beyond that, the person or persons responsible face criminal records that could hinder them greatly, going forward, in terms of employment or other opportunities.

Beginning at a young age, children need to begin learning that “perfect crimes” are the exception rather than the rule — and that destruction and other hurtful actions can result in a steep cost to the person or persons responsible for what occurred.

Important now is how the community will benefit over the long run from the knowledge that the deplorable incident apparently is headed toward the right conclusion.

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