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.