Curfews Can Reduce
By Robert Seith
CWK Senior Producer
everything happens real late at night. I mean, it does."
-Michael, a 17-year-old, explaining
why he thinks curfews work to reduce teenage crime-
When asked what he would think was going on if he saw a crowd
of teenagers hanging out late at night, 17-year-old Simon
says, I assume that there probably is a lot of drug
use, and alcohol consumption
And then, he adds, Trespassing, vandalism, mailboxes
might get broken."
When the sun goes down, are teenagers more likely to get into
Shoot, everything happens real late at night. I mean,
it does, confirms 17-year-old Michael.
17-year-old Rochelle adds, Well thats kind of
a stereotype, but they might be the type that are into bad
The stereotype now comes with hard statistics. In a new survey
by the National League of Cities, 97 percent of cities and
towns with nighttime curfews report a drop in juvenile crime.
Not only are we worried about the fact that they may
commit a crime while theyre out, but the fact that they
may also be victimized while theyre out, says
Police Spokesman Officer Chris Lagerbloom.
But experts say curfews should reflect the views of the community
for example: kids with night jobs, or involved in extracurricular
activities, or with a note from their parents
Have specific exceptions to the rule, suggests
civic leader Debbie Gibson,
if you have parental
permission to be out at that time, then you would not fall
under this category, if youre coming home from a date
I mean you can kind of customize it to your own community.
. most kids wont like it.
I hate being home, hate having to be at a certain place
at a certain time
dont like it at all, confirms
But parents can explain to their children that a citywide
curfew for all kids is better than a parental curfew that
only applies to them.
If everyone else had to go at the same time I did, and
I knew everyone else wasnt out having fun
be like, alright, this is fine, says Michael.
Crime With Curfews
By Tom Atwood
Curfews have always been a controversial issue between parents
and children. Now the increasing use of curfews by towns and
citiesto fight juvenile crimeis generating controversy
nationwide. The National League of Cities recently polled
800 cities that have implemented curfews. The survey, conducted
by Insta-Poll, shows that curfews are cost-effective
and useful, and that a growing number of city
officials have confidence in curfews as an effective strategy
to help curb gang violence. However, the American Civil
Liberties Union opposes curfews for everyone, including teenagers,
because these laws criminalize normal and otherwise
lawful behaviorsuch as standing on a street cornerand
are unconstitutionally vague and broad.
Listed below are some highlights from the National League
of Cities curfew survey. Of the 800 cities polled:
- 97% say curfews are effective in combating juvenile crime.
- 96% say curfews are effective in fighting truancy.
- 88% say curfews are effective in reducing gang violence.
- 56% reported drops in violent crime within one year of
implementing a nighttime curfew.
- 55% reported a drop in gang activity.
- 88% reported no problems implementing their curfew.
- 89% said there were no significant new costs for their
More than half the cities polled (52%)
had curfews of 11p.m. during the week for children under 18.
The curfews were extended one hour to midnight on the weekends
by 55% of the surveyed cities. Daytime curfews are also being
implemented in some cities. Thirty-five percent cited school
hours as the hours of their daytime curfews. Another
21% reported 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. as their hours of enforcement.
The ACLU has been involved in legal battles against various
municipal curfew laws. The organization believes that curfews,
like other tough-sounding anti-crime strategies, are
not solutions. They divert the publics attention from
real crime prevention programs and mask the underlying causes
of crime. What curfews really mean, the ACLU says,
is that law abiding citizens will be stopped and questioned
for no reason. And inevitably, broad laws like these produce
uneven or discriminatory enforcementstudies have found
that curfew restrictions are disproportionately enforced in
What Parents Can Do
According to Girls and Boys Town, curfews set by parents
can teach valuable lessons to teenagers. Curfews can help
parents and children develop a trusting relationship.
When a teenager comes home on time, parents tend to trust
the teen more and consider him or her more responsible. Some
suggestions regarding curfews (from Girls and Boys Town)
- Before your teens go out, find out where they are going,
what theyll be doing, and whos driving, and
set up a clear time for when they
need to be home.
- Never let your teens go to parties or activities that
dont have adequate adult supervision.
- Check on your teens once in a while. Make a big deal
out it if they are where theyre supposed to be. Restrict
their activities for a while if theyre not where they
told you they would be.
- Within reason (generally between midnight and 1:00 a.m.)
extend your teens curfew if theyve demonstrated
they can be trusted.
- Establish a pattern of talking with your teens each night
after they come home. Its worth the loss of sleep.
- Frequently, talk with the parents of your teens
National League of Cities www.nlc.org
American Civil Liberties Union www.aclu.org
Girls and Boys Town www.parenting.org