teen curfews, community and parental involvement in adolescent behaviors regarding the community
Teenagers’ Curfews and Community Involvement
Recently, juvenile curfews have become a popular strategy for controlling juvenile crime. Most people’s opinion is solidly behind the use of curfews, as they believe it will contribute to safer streets. In the same way, many people consider that by controlling the hours youth are allowed to stay in the streets, the streets, and cities will be safer. These laws, restricting the presence of youngsters in the street during specified hours of the day have enjoyed an enormous popularity in the past years. This might have to do with the fact that in the past decade, many things have happened in the country. On the other hand, for others, juvenile curfews represent a simple and effective strategy for curbing potential juvenile offenders (Adams 2004). According to this reasoning, by keeping youngsters off the streets delinquency would diminish. In the same way, curfews are supposed to reinforce positive values and parental responsibility.
Curfews are not a new idea, they have been used throughout the history to control the civil disorder and unrest. For instance, armies implement curfews to control the population. Etymologically, the word curfew comes from the Old French phrase “cuevrefeu”, which means “cover the fire” (Adams, 2004). At that moment, curfew meant to put down the lights, to prevent fires. The first curfew enacted in the United States occurred in Omaha, Nebraska in the year of 1880. Regarding juvenile curfews, in the dawn of the 19th century they were quite popular, and many associations endorsed its use claiming that loitering diminished by a 50 percent (Adams, 2004). Nevertheless, traditionally, to determine the curfew of a minor have been a family issue. It is up to the parents to determine the hours their children are allowed to stay in the streets. Instead of considering it a situation the government has to regulate. In the past decades, public curfews and juvenile curfews are enacted as a reaction to the increased level of juvenile delinquency and loitering. Also, given the fact that in many households both parents have to work, children lack parental supervision and curfews could be a necessity (LeBoeuf, 1996).
In this essay, we aim to provide comprehensive arguments for, and against juvenile curfews. In the end, we shall compare and contrast them in order to give a thorough idea on the subject in hand. We understand that it might be a sensible subject that is why it shall be treated accordingly, avoiding tear-jerking arguments, to give an academic response to the subject.
To be able to give the most concrete and correct arguments, we shall separate them in two parts. In the first part, we shall discuss the arguments that support teenagers’ curfews. In the second, we aim to offer counterarguments and points against juvenile curfews. That way, the arguments will be separated and clearly distinguishable.
Arguments Supporting Curfews on Teenagers. The main rationale behind the effectiveness of curfews in teenagers has to be the straightforward fact that if teenagers are not in the streets at hours they are not supposed to, they are less likely to commit crimes, and to be victimized. In that way, curfews are understandable and desired. We aim to assess the importance of curfews on teenagers, and the all the possibilities they have. In that way, it is important to establish a sociocultural study concerning the realities of teenagers’ curfews. For instance, for children with parents, or caretakers that enforce curfews, to ensure government curfews would not be necessary. However, since we know that those teenagers are the exception, it might be necessary to place curfews in the cities. We can see that there are two possible ways to focus the subject. The first would be a liberal approach where curfews are to be enforced by the families, and a more conservative one, that states that curfews should be enforced in the cities’ ordinances, or in the states’ laws.
If we follow our argumentation, there are two sides that support curfews on teenagers, one that considers that curfews should come from the parents, and another one stating that there should be statewide curfew laws. We shall provide a rationale of both.
The argument supporting parental curfew has its own set of drawbacks and benefits. For instance, a curfew does not offer absolute protection against the harms of the streets when returning home late. However, the later a person is, the more it might be exposed to a different set of situations that might escalate out of control. In that way, if parents ensure a curfew on their children, they must understand the reasons on it. To give teenagers a curfew is a way to protect them, but at the same time it relieves them of the responsibility for their actions (Pickhardt, 2011). That is why the curfew must be negotiated between both parents and children. If that negotiation satisfies both parts, and none of them violates what was agreed on, it is likely that curfew does not become a hurdle for the teenagers’ development.
On the other side of the argument, juvenile curfews are seen as an effective mean to combat crime and teenage victimization. In many cities, ordinances have been ensued as a way to protect children and teenagers from crime. These ordinances are community-based plans designed to provide support, from the community to deter and stop late night crime. What these ordinances have achieved with the involvement of the community has not been achieved with punitive strategies from the state. If the communities promote strategies designed to intervene on crime before it happens, chances are that it will diminish. In the same way, only by preventing the development of delinquent behavior in the communities, and by addressing the social issues that make curfews necessary, will they be able to effectively enact them to keep the communities safe (Fried, 2001)
Arguments against Teenagers’ Curfews
While it is true that in many cities curfews have helped on reducing crime and teenage loitering, many people feel unnecessary to restrict teenagers’ ability to go where they want. In the same light, people against curfews consider that curfews do not address the causes of crime. For some people, it is not a matter of imposing curfews, it is a matter of offering youth places to go, and things to do. When lights go out in many cities, a new world opens for the teenagers, and to explore them, curfews should not exist. However, that does not mean that the new world is something good. With more legitimate activities, people say, it is possible that some illegal activities would be deterred (Reed, 2011). In the same way, some people consider that the lack of things to do incentives crime. Also, curfews can be illegal in some cases, as it would criminalize all youth. Instead of curfews, they propose more activities that can be engaged in the nighttime, activities that nourish teenagers, and allow them to socialize as they should by giving them legitimate places to go.
While it is possible that by giving teenager more places to go, crime could diminish, we consider that the community involvement is key in deterring, and preventing crime. Without community involvement, there would not be solutions that truly last. By protecting youth from crime, we are not cutting their freedom, we are creating a safety net that goes from the government to the houses, passing through the communities. If the government passes curfew laws, but the communities does not enforce them, those laws would be rendered useless. Instead, if the laws are ratified by the communities, the response would be by far greater and more coherent. It is not a governmental matter, effective curfews could be only asserted with the help of the parents and the communities.
Adams, K. (2003). The Effectiveness of Juvenile Curfews at Crime Prevention. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 136-159.
Fried, C. (2001). Juvenile curfews: Are they an effective and constitutional means of combating juvenile violence? Behav. Sci. Law Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 127-141.
Leboeuf, D. (1996). Curfew: An Answer to Juvenile Delinquency and Victimization? Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/curfew.pdfPickhardt, C. (2011, December 12). Adolescence and Curfew. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/201112/adolescence-and-curfewReed, D. (2011, July 13). Teens need things to do, not a curfew. Retrieved from http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/11262/teens-need-things-to-do-not-a-curfew/
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