Chalk Graffiti illegal in the States

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Evangelyna - posted on 05/08/2013

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Yes and no to it being strict. I think kids should be able to play with chalk if that's what they like to do regardless of living situation (apartment, condo, townhouse, house, rent or own) but I also agree with it being done only at home or school with permission. I know most schools allow young kids to use sidewalk chalk on the playground.

There's a difference between using the street/sidewalk in front of your own home or in front of a neighbors with their permission and using a street downtown or a city owned park. For kids who don't have houses with driveways or live in apartments/condo/townhouse/other type of multi family dwelling I've seen chalk drawings in the space in front of doors (when they have concrete) or in the parking lot area (close to the apartments away from where cars drive of course). Which to me falls under the same category as using your own driveway or sidewalk/street directly in front of your own house.

While people technically don't own the sidewalk in front of their house it is considered theirs. Like you can hang out in front of your own house all you want but if you were hanging out in front of someone else's house without permission they'd probably ask you to leave or at the very least go out and find out why you're loitering in front of their house.

Again, my foggy brain is making this difficult lol

People could argue that spray paint graffiti is art, which in some instances it does look like a professional painting or looks nice as opposed to derogatory slurs and names being tagged on a wall. Whether or not it's artistic doesn't matter because they're still painting on public property without permission. It can be painted over just like sidewalk chalk can be washed away but it doesn't make it okay. I'm sure someone could argue both sides convincingly about any form of "artistic" vandalism and create an array of grey areas but laws are generally supposed to be black and white, which is unfortunate for the grey areas but it also makes sense. It's like telling your kid you can't have candy before dinner but a cookie is okay. They both are sweet treats and should fall under the blanket rule of no sweets before dinner but a cookie isn't a piece of candy.

Chalk isn't spray paint or markers but because they can't pick and choose what they're going to call graffiti or vandalism just because of what was used (chalk, spray paint, markers etc) it falls under that blanket law. If they say chalk is okay because it usually washes away easily, someone could say this particular form of graffiti is okay because it's an artistic painting or because you can just paint over it.

Some people would delight at seeing a young child's drawing someplace while other curmudgeons would call it graffiti. Laws can't please everyone but they can't make exceptions without losing credibility and power. Just like you have to be consistent with your kids, laws have to be consistent with everyone.

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It is illegal to let your kids draw on public properties or on private properties without permission. That said, there is nothing illegal about allowing your children to draw on your own driveway, or on a neighborhood street where you have permission.

Think of it this way: Would you be okay with someone allowing their child to come over and draw on your home with chalk? I doubt it. You can draw on your own property all you want, and no one can do anything about it (unless it violates a predetermined code/contract that you agreed to specifically), but you cannot draw on someone elses' property unless you have permission.

Evangelyna - posted on 05/08/2013

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There's nothing wrong with chalk as long as it's on your own property. I played with chalk as a kid but my parents (my dad was a police officer for almost 30 years) told me and my siblings we could only do it in our driveway or directly in front of our house. It might seem silly or extreme to some people to punish people for letting their kids use chalk on city property but it can be considered vandalism.

If you replaced the chalk scenario with an adult or teenager defacing a building or park with inappropriate images in chalk I think people would react differently. From a city/law perspective you can't pick and choose what is considered vandalism and what isn't just because of the medium used. I would be just as upset over crayons on my wall as I would unwanted paint splatters. Forgive my poor preggo brain for not making my point clear lol but in a way I understand it but also understand why people wouldn't think it's a big deal since generally it washes off easily with water. But you still can't go around drawing on other people's property without permission from the owner.

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Sandy84 - posted on 05/09/2013

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I agree with most things you say! However, it's only chalk... Kids have to play and I would understand if parents had to clean up after their kids. In my eyes it simply doesn't make sense though to really punish somebody for letting their kids draw on the sidewalk. If they refuse to wash away their kids' chalk then punish them. No problem... On the other hand, we tend to overdo things I feel like. Nevertheless, thanks for your comment. I don't think our opinions are that different. At the end of the day it is up to you if you let your kids draw on the sidewalk or not because you have to face the consequences!

Sandy84 - posted on 05/08/2013

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Yes, you're right! I understand what you're trying to explain, but I still feel like it's a little strict... don't you think? If my child draws on my neighbor's house, for example, this would be absolutely my fault. On the other hand a public street is not really a house, car, etc. where it really matters if my kid draws something or not... Some people don't have a driveway. What are they supposed to do?

Michelle - posted on 05/02/2013

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Have you found any other source to back it up? I wouldn't be trusting that source as the absolute truth regarding it.

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