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Over the past decade, juvenile crimes have been on the rise in many regions around the world. These have been attributed to an increase in drug abuse, media influences and negative peer pressure among the youth. As such, laws have been enacted to deter the youth from getting into trouble. In addition, parents have been advised to set curfews in order to restrict their children’s activities during certain hours of the day and night.
Arguably, curfews help in the reduction of juvenile crime and victimization. However, opponents of this fact argue that curfews deny teenagers their civil rights.
This paper shall argue that curfews are beneficial to society in regard to the role they play in improving the lives of teenagers, and maintain social order. This shall be done by reviewing the arguments forwarded by the opponents and proponents of the impact curfews have on teenagers’ behaviors.
Impacts of Curfews on Teenagers
Logically, if there are indications that teenagers are getting into trouble between certain hours of the day or night, implementing curfews may help monitor their activities. Curfews provide a convenient way of deterring teenagers from juvenile crimes and victimization (Adams, 2003).
Aviram (2011), states that the implementation of a curfew decreases the likelihood of juveniles to commit violent and property crimes by 10% within the first year of its implementation. This percentage increases substantially in subsequent years (Aviram, 2011).
Similarly, Williams (2012), states that curfews enable parents to set boundaries, responsibilities and sleep patterns for their adolescent children. Through curfews, teenagers are able to know what is expected of them, their responsibilities and manage their time effectively.
In addition, Williams (2012), states that teenagers learn of the importance of rules, and the consequences of breaking those rules (for example, mistrust). These aspects help make the teenagers better citizens, while improving the bond between the parents and their teenage children.
Aviram (2011) argues that curfews facilitate the preservation of social order. At the teenage stage, individuals equate their freedom to the amount of time they spend with their friends. Similarly, at this stage, individuals are more likely to get into social problems due to peer pressure and reasoning inefficiencies.
As such, a teenager without restrictions is bound to do what he/she wants. In this regard, setting a curfew may help teenagers understand their responsibilities, and stay away from activities that may affect the level of trust and privilege given to them by their parents.
On the same note, Puzzanchera and Sickmund (2008) suggest that curfews help teenagers develop a more structured and disciplined routine. The ultimate goal of a curfew is to ensure that a teenager is at home within specified periods of time. Failure to do so leads to punishment or restriction of freedom.
In order to avoid such punishments, teenagers under a curfew ensure that they plan their time and activities carefully. However, despite these positive attributes associated with the implementation of curfews, there are people who believe that curfews do not achieve this aim.
According to Zimmerman (2011), curfews cannot prevent teens from getting pregnant, smoking, drinking, or participating in criminal activities. At this age, individuals are curious, and often find a way to do such things with or without a curfew in place. The behavior exhibited by a teenager depends on the relationship he/she has with the community.
For example, teenagers with positive moral and social values avoid conflict and trouble at all costs. On the other hand, those with negative influences in life often find themselves in trouble. Despite whether there is a curfew or not, delinquent teens always end up in trouble, while those with conservative personalities and trustworthy relationships avoid such situations.
On the same note, a study on juvenile crime in Detroit indicated that while such crimes had decreased by 6% during curfew hours in 1976, it had increased by 13% during the afternoon hours of the day (non-curfew hours). Ordinarily, most curfews are between 8 p.m. and midnight depending on the parent, state or school schedule.
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However, nationwide statistics indicate that most juvenile crimes (80%) occur between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., which is outside the curfew hours (Zimmerman, 2011). This is a clear indication that curfews do not keep teens out of trouble.
Zimmerman (2011), further states that the enacted curfew ordinances may be acceptable politically but they lack the ability to address the key issue, which is increased juvenile delinquency. The author suggests that the focus should be directed towards improving recreation centers, campaigning for youth empowerment and advocating for parental control.
Such initiatives are more likely to succeed in keeping teenagers out of trouble, as compared to setting curfews, which violate teenagers’ freedom of speech and movement, as well as their right to equal protection and due process among other civil rights (Zimmerman, 2011).
Both sides provide compelling cases to support their arguments regarding the implementation of curfews as a means to keeping teenagers out of trouble. However, unless they are legally declared as adults, teenagers are their parents’ responsibility, and are bound by the rules set by the parents.
In as much as curfews may not seem effective in deterring juvenile delinquency, they have played a pivotal role in fostering responsibility, respect for boundaries and effective time management among the youth. They ensure that teenagers understand what is expected of them and the consequences of noncompliance to those expectations.
Similarly, parents have obligations to ensure the safety and health of their children. However, they cannot monitor and supervise their children’s activities every hour of the day. Setting curfews gives parents an opportunity to establish a trusting relationship with their children. As a result, parents are able to know where their children are, with whom and at what time to expect them back home.
Despite what the teenagers do with their free time, implementation of curfews lessens their likelihood of getting into trouble. This is because they are afraid of the repercussions associated with breaking the curfew. In the long-run, curfews play a significant role in deterring teenagers from getting into trouble. Simply put; the benefits of curfews as a deterrent mechanism far outweigh the costs.
Curfews make a significant impact on teenagers’ behaviors. They help parents to monitor their children’s activities and minimize the likelihood of teenagers getting into trouble. While some may argue that curfews are ineffective in the prevention of juvenile delinquency, there is supporting evidence that indicate otherwise.
Throughout this paper, the arguments for and against curfews have been outlined and support for each offered. At the end, it has been revealed that curfews help in the reduction of juvenile crime and victimization.
Adams, K. (2003). The Effectiveness of Juvenile Curfews at Crime Prevention. Annals 587: 136–59.
Aviram, H. (2011). Are teen curfews necessary? Web.
Puzzanchera, C., & Sickmund, M. (2008). Juvenile Court Statistics 2005. Pittsburgh, Pa.: National Center for Juvenile Justice.
Williams, L. (2012). What Can Happen When Teens Don’t Have a Curfew? Web.
Zimmerman, J. (2011). Curfews don’t keep kids out of trouble. Web.