Curfew laws restrict the right of youngsters (usually under 18) to be outdoors, in the streets or public places during certain hours of the day. Children are required to be at home or an authorized place between a set hour in the evening until a designated time the following morning. Most often youth curfew laws allow for minors to be in public places for an extended time on Friday and Saturday nights. There are certain communities that relax curfew laws in the summer months when schools are closed for break. Others take a different approach and impose more severe time restrictions when children are on vacation or break.
The implementation of laws governing child curfews in the United States of America is a matter of what is known as the police power of the individual states. The federal government does not have the constitutional authority to enforce any kind of national curfew, and this includes child curfew, except in the event of a national emergency. Juvenile curfews have been imposed by state, country, city and township authorities.
Local laws dictate that parents are responsible for the administration and transportation costs of returning a minor to his or her home on a second curfew violation. A child who is a frequent offender of the curfew may be declared a ward of the court and be treated as a status offender. Most curfew laws prohibit minors from being out past 10 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends. There are certain exceptions to the law, however, which allow kids to legally stay out late if they are:
· Running an errand for a parent or guardian
· Participating in a religious, educational or political activity
· Accompanied by a parent, guardian or another adult
· Working or going to or returning from their place of employment
· Returning home from a school, cultural or recreational activity
· Responding to some emergency
What happens when the curfew is broken?
When a child breaks the curfew, he or she could be temporarily detained by the police and then returned home. The State Law also gives the local police officers some flexibility in their enforcement of such curfew laws – if the officer believes the youth has a “legitimate reason based on extenuating circumstances” for the breach. Some of the other penalties for breaking the curfew are:
· Fines (gradually increases for subsequent violations)
· Restrictions of driver’s license privileges
· Possible detention in jail or juvenile hall
· Imposition of community service or compulsory enrollment in after-school programs
Crime against the youth
The primary concern of every parent and the community is obviously keeping children safe and protected. The main objective of implementing juvenile or child curfew is to safeguard the well-being and welfare of children. With the steady rise of crime rates against the youth, the underlying rationale of community members is that children are much safer when they are at home and not outside after a certain time in the evening.
Delinquency by the youth
The second objective is to protect the community as a whole from the miscreant conduct of certain children who are inclined to break the law. Crimes committed by the youth are a major problem in all big cities today. Restricting the presence of unsupervised children from public venues after a curfew each night will reduce the number of children and teens that end up involved in criminal activity and break the law.
Gang violence control
Law enforcement officers maintain that juvenile curfew laws provide them with another weapon in their battle against gang violence. It can be hard to gather substantial evidence to arrest members of a gang, but a violation of curfew law will at least provide officers a chance to interrupt their presence on the streets of a community.
There are quite a few misconceptions when it comes to child curfew laws. Children have the right to be at the homes of their peers after the curfew, provided there is an adult present at the residence and the children are transported from home to home by an adult. Even organized community events that have adult supervision are also permissible during child curfew hours.
Since child curfew laws vary by locality and government enforcement, it can depend on a number of factors. If you would like to know more about the curfew laws in your community, you could get in touch with your local police department. If your community does not have a curfew, be sure to obtain a list of the laws and a list of the exceptions and exceptional circumstances. Please feel free to express your views on the subject by dropping us a comment below.