Open Accessibility Menu

Creating A Culture of Cleanliness

Smash! A window is shattered as glass sprinkles across the asphalt.? We’ve heard about it and maybe even experienced it, a car broken into.? This behavior is exactly what we DON’T want to experience in our communities where we’re supposed to feel safe and comfortable.

What exactly causes this kind of disorder?

One theory that has been scientifically documented is called The Broken Window Theory. The theory, originally published in The Atlantic Monthly by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling argued when a window is left broken unrepaired, more windows become broken signaling an attitude that “no one cares”. This is true in run down and prominent communities alike.

The authors described how Stanford psychologist, Philip Zimbardo studied locations in California and New York documenting how abandoned vehicles were attacked, stripped and ultimately physically destroyed by passersby.

An article from The Boston Globe described how researchers from Harvard and Suffolk University working with local police identified 34 crime hotspots to observe activity.

In half of the locations they cleared trash from sidewalks, fixed street lights, sent away loiterers and secured abandoned properties. In the other half the normal services continued. The researchers then sat back and watched recording the incidents.

Community Behavior Mimics The Environment
In both cases researchers found that more disorderly conditions bread more bad behavior, and that fixing the disorder was effective in preventing such behavior and ultimately, crime.

They found that clearing up the physical environment was extremely effective compared to arrests and boosting social services in areas. The results indicate that a disorderly environment sends the message that no one is in charge, ultimately increasing fear, weakening community controls, and inviting criminal behavior.

Your Actions Are Critical To The Culture Of Cleanliness Everyone has either experienced or knows someone who has experienced robberies, break-in and vandalism, which breed mistrust and fear community-wide.? Not only is leaving trash out in the community an eyesore, it increases the risk for everyone living there. Each of us have a part to play in keeping our communities safe and comfortable.

What will you do to help create a Culture of Cleanliness?

Further Reading:

BROKEN WINDOWS by James QWilson and George L. Kelling Atlantic Monthly?

Breakthrough on ‘broken windows’ February 8, 2009 Boston Globe?