Essay Preview: Curfews
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Hundreds of cities nationwide have set up and enforced strict curfews on youths being in public at night or during the school day. Curfews were set to try and lower the youth crime rate. Even though only one in six violent youth crimes occur during the curfew hours. Most violent crimes happen between two and six p.m, the highest point being around three in the afternoon. In fact, eighty percent of juvenile crime occurs between nine a.m., and ten p.m. Curfews are not an effective solution to the problem of youth crime.
Curfews have been around for hundreds of years. They were traditionally created by the upper class members of society to control the movements of the lower class. The theory behind this is that crime originates from those of the lower classes, and this will limit the amount of crimes that they can commit. It saying that an entire group of people would be considered guilty. Curfews became popular for youth in the early 1900s. The curfew bell would ring throughout the city to indicate to teenagers and children that it was time to head home.
Usually under the influence of local governments, curfews are routine in cities and towns across America.
According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In a December 1995 survey of 1,000 cities with populations of more than 30,000, the conference found that 70 percent, or 270 of the 387 cities responding, have a curfew ordinance in place. An additional 6 percent, or 23 cities, were considering adopting curfew legislation.
The times for each curfew vary from place to place, most however restrict minors to their homes or property between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. There are exceptions to this, which include if the children are accompanied by an adult, on their way to or from work, an emergency, or attending a school, or religious recreational activity. In some cities if a minor is caught out after their curfew, they may be arrested, booked and held in jail, or brought to a special curfew violation center.
The curfew laws place limitations on the liberty of the .2 of one percent of minors who commit serious crimes, but also on the remaining 99.8 percent who generally always do the right thing.
In other words, every child is a suspect. At first blush it seems that there is an irrefutable logic to curfews. After all, if you keep kids home during the night, they wont be out breaking the law. Right? (Elikann)
The fact is that it has long been acknowledged that most juvenile crime doesnt even happen during the curfew hours. Only one in six violent juvenile crimes happen during the curfew hours, which, happens to only be seventeen percent. Most violent youth crimes happen between two and six p.m. after the end of school and before working parents return home. The highest point being around three in the afternoon.
According to the justice department:
A greater proportion of all violent juvenile crime occurs between 2 and 6 p.m. on those days when school is in session than during an entire years curfew periods. The relative level of violent behavior is even more discrepant when it is recognized that the after school period is limited to half the number of days on which the curfew is applied and that the after school period is four hours long compared to the 6-8 hour curfew period. (Elikann)
Curfews are not an effective solution to the problem of youth crime, research suggests that there is no link between areas that saw a reduction in juvenile crime and areas with youth curfews. Although some places did see a reduction in youth crime, this often had more to do with other strategies, such as zero-tolerance policing, or economic changes affecting the population of the youth.
Many teenagers who are at least sixteen years old have legitimate reasons to be out at night without adults. Many, for instance will have part-time jobs that will either hold them past curfew or start them before the curfew is ended. Others will wish to participate in activities such as church groups, youth clubs or school trips. For teenagers under the age of sixteen have no chance of getting a license and which then would require there parents to drive them to and from suck activities, which is unreasonable and will ensure that many never take place in the first place, either because adults are unwilling, or are unable to do so. Some children are subject to abuse at home and actually feel safer out on the streets.
Curfews just dont do much. According to records by Vincent Schiraldi of the Justice Policy Institute:
In Detroit, to combat the fearsome “Devils Night where, every Halloween, youths set fire to buildings and commit vandalism, curfews were put into play. Ensuing five years, incidents of arson doubled.
When San Francisco dropped its juvenile curfew law in 1990, youth crimes in those hours dropped sixteen percent.
When Phoenix imposed a curfew, while at the same time starting a policy where juvenile recreation centers were kept open much later, youth crime declined 55 percent. But when the recreational center hours were cut back to a much earlier time, youth crime once again rose. (Elikann)
Maybe the reason why curfews are not that effective is that they fail to see the main reasons why at-risk kids are out at night. Instead, energy and resources should be put into giving kids a place to go at night such