General /

There is no precise definition of anti-social behavior. Broadly speaking, it is acting in a way that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. To be anti-social behavior, the behavior must be persistent.

Individuals with disabilities are sometimes placed in residential settings, special education services or become involved with juvenile justice, criminal justice programs because of what is perceived by others as anti-social or unacceptable social behavior. These behaviors may occur due to poor impulse control due to disrupted neuro-development which may occur because of severe abuse or neglect. This is discussed more thoroughly in the Trauma Informed Services chapter of the RTC training events held by the Mandt System. Two additional chapters, Healthy Conflict Resolution and Positive Behavior Supports provide family members and service providers with information about how to more effectively impact the occurrence of these behaviors.

Sadly many community based services, supporting some of our societies most vulnerable individuals can be victims of anti-social behavior as they are often perceived as easy or soft targets. Additionally there are elements for whom the concept of community based support and social inclusion policies are a challenge and ‘NIMBYism’ (Not In My Back Yard) prevails.

There may be a fine line between anti-social behavior and disputes between neighbors over relatively minor inconveniences, although these may, if persistent, become anti-social behavior. Anti-social behavior can include:

• intimidation of neighbors and others through threats or actual violence
• harassment, including racial harassment
• verbal abuse
• rowdy, noisy behavior in otherwise quiet neighborhoods
• night time noise from houses or gardens, especially during nighttime hours
• threatening or drunken or behavior
• vandalism, graffiti and bill-posting
• dealing or buying drugs on the street
• aggressive begging
• drinking in the street
• homophobic behavior
• abusive behavior aimed at causing distress or fear to certain people, for example, elderly or disabled people
• dumping trash
• animal nuisance, including dog fouling

Anti-social behavior doesn’t just make life unpleasant. It can ruin lives and make whole areas feel unsafe.

If anti-social behavior is a problem in your area or targeted toward individuals you serve within the community, there’s a lot you can do to help address it.
You can:

• talk to your neighbors to find out if they’re affected as well
• if you feel comfortable doing so talk to the person causing the problem; they may not realize how it is affecting you
• report the problem to your local community anti-social behavior coordinator where such exists
• call your police non-emergency number
• tell your landlord or residents’ association about the situation
• contact your local neighborhood watch team, or attend one of their regular meetings

If the situation is an emergency (if someone’s life or health is threatened) call 911.

No matter how you report anti-social behavior, all complaints are usually treated as confidential. So you don’t have to worry about your identity being revealed. It may be that your community based organization has policies and procedures for reporting anti-social behavior, and if this is the case these should be followed.

The local authority and police both need evidence of what’s happened to you, so keep a note of problems. They should not ask you to do this indefinitely. Once you have reported the problem, you should be kept informed of progress in your case.

Mediation

If you just want the behavior to stop and do not wish to take legal action, you could consider a mediation scheme. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party helps two or more people in dispute to seek a mutually acceptable solution informally. Community mediation services deal with disputes between neighbors and in the community, including noise, children, pets, parking and burglaries. Mediation is usually free.

Mediation is an appropriate course of action if both parties are willing to go through with it. Mediation can take the form of direct, ‘round the table’ discussion, where the parties in dispute meet on neutral ground. If they are unwilling to meet, the mediators will act as intermediaries, conveying messages between each of the parties.

Anti-social behavior can be a real blight to individuals as well as communities. Working through appropriate local channels and collaboration with neighbors is the most effect way to re-establish the sense of safety and security at home that we all desire for ourselves and our families and the individuals we serve.

Mandt Director of Communications

Ref: Antisocial Advice Guide – Community Housing

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