Keep Kids Inside

Why bother fighting crime when you can just lock everybody up from the get-go: 

Should a 13-year-old kid be making a snack run to a gas station at 10:30 at night? Especially just blocks from where a double homicide took place less than a month ago?

I say no; they should be home with their families. But in some Milwaukee neighborhoods, children can be seen hanging out and playing well past Milwaukee's current curfew.

With most schools closed for summer break, now is a good time for officials to not only enforce the current curfew law but to follow the lead of cities such as Baltimore.

On June 4, the Baltimore City Council passed a new curfew bill after two teens were killed within a week. The controversial law states that children 13 and younger have to be indoors by 9 p.m., while teens ages 14 to 16 have to be indoors by 10 p.m. on school nights and 11 p.m. on non-school nights. The old curfew allowed kids under 17 to be out on the streets until 11 p.m. during the week and midnight on weekends.

Violators of the new law can be picked up by police and taken to a youth center.

I know this idea will not be popular because the last thing a child wants to hear, especially during the summer months, is that he or she needs to be home an hour earlier. But when it comes to children 13 and younger, if they are not with an adult, I can't think of any reason they wouldn't be in front of or inside their homes by 9 p.m.

If the streets are not safe, the answer is not to keep kids off the streets. It is to make the streets safe. "Should" a teenager be out getting a snack at 10:30 p.m.? Let's ask why a teenager shouldn't. Why shouldn't someone be safe at all hours of the day or night, if those tasked with his safety are doing their jobs? 

Put this another way: Why not advocate curfew for all businesses frequented by teenagers (and in fact everybody else) if the streets are so dangerous for The Children? If a child can get shot in a drive-by so can a grandparent, an adult, so can anyone. Therefore, everybody can just do their grocery shopping and beer runs before 9 p.m. Roll up the sidewalks, lock your doors, and make sure your guns are loaded. It's the only way to be safe. 


2 thoughts on “Keep Kids Inside

  1. Well, we had a curfew in my youth (50+ years ago). The issue wasn’t so much protecting me from danger I might have been exposed to but rather keeping little shit disturbers like me from making mischief.

  2. I have mixed feelings about this. I agree with the parents who are wary of criminalizing both their parenting and their children by creating a novel cause of action for the police. These curfews both make children into truants and their parents into criminals who are negligent in their handling of their kids. And for children from abusive homes it has the effect of forcing the kids into sometimes dangerous or uncomfortable situations which they are, perhaps, attempting to avoid.
    Of course in a sane world there would be 1) summer jobs programs and 2) domestic violence shelters and summer camps and 3) after school and late night, age appropriate, locations for children and teens to socialize, stay cool, and be safe.
    But all that being said it seems problematic to have middle schoolers out on the streets late at night with no adult supervision. And if there is a specifically teenage, gang problem then its definitionally going to be problematic for teenagers who may be the focus (target) of gang recruitment or police attention to be on the streets after 9 or 10.
    What would work better than a curfew would be a block by block effort to stabilize family and community, social police initiatives that focus on familiarity, local police walking a beat and knowing kids and families, as well as the creation of centers for after school, arts and crafts, and sports events for children and teens.
    Rich communities have plenty of (supervised) activities for their kids to do because kids get in trouble–they are targeted by predatory adults and other teens if they aren’t actively manufacturing trouble for themselves. Families who can’t afford to pay for dance lessons, sports classes, blah blah blah have to have those things provided for them by their cities/towns and money needs to be found for it. It is not only more humane it is, inthe long run, much cheaper (if that matters, which it shouldn’t) than leaving children and families out to dry.

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