An Argument in Favor of Juvenile Curfew Laws
Juvenile curfew laws û laws that establish a time of day or night when juveniles are forbidden to be on the streets unaccompanied by an adult and subject to arrest if found by authorities û are designed for two purposes. First, as Lee F, O'Brien (1999) noted, these laws are meant to reduce the possibility that juveniles will commit crimes or victimize others; secondly, these laws are meant to protect juveniles from victimization. Curfew laws are inherently controversial in that they can be difficult to enforce, they can divert police attention from more significant offenses or potential offenses, and likely to increase the number of cases referred to the courts for adjudication (Joseph, 1999). In this brief essay, a discussion of the pros and cons of juvenile curfews will be offered, leading to the conclusion that while enforcing juvenile curfew laws may be time-consuming, expensive and difficult, such laws send a clear message to juveniles and their parents or guardians regarding societal attitudes toward adolescent behaviors.
Curfew laws are regulations which specify the hours that certain age groups must remain off public sidewalks and streets or in other public spaces. Most, but not all, American cities have some type of curfew laws in place. Such laws are generally intended to keep juveniles off the streets during certain hours (generally late evening and early morning) for their own protection and to prevent or retard juvenile crime (Provo City ordinance, 2004). While curfew laws are often controversial and in some instances even challenged as unconstitutional, they enjoy broad support among law enforcement and public officials and many policymakers.
Currently, 146 of the nation's 200 largest cities and an additional 1,600 mid-sized and smaller cities have juvenile curfews in place, leading to significant drops in both juvenile crime and crimes in which juveniles ...