Curfews Can Reduce
By Robert Seith
CWK Senior Producer
everything happens real late at night. I mean, it does.”
-Michael, a 17-year-old, explaining
why he thinks curfews work to reduce teenage crime-
When asked what he would think was going on if he saw a crowd
of teenagers hanging out late at night, 17-year-old Simon
says, I assume that there probably is a lot of drug
use, and alcohol consumption
And then, he adds, Trespassing, vandalism, mailboxes
might get broken.”
When the sun goes down, are teenagers more likely to get into
Shoot, everything happens real late at night. I mean,
it does, confirms 17-year-old Michael.
17-year-old Rochelle adds, Well thats kind of
a stereotype, but they might be the type that are into bad
The stereotype now comes with hard statistics. In a new survey
by the National League of Cities, 97 percent of cities and
towns with nighttime curfews report a drop in juvenile crime.
Not only are we worried about the fact that they may
commit a crime while theyre out, but the fact that they
may also be victimized while theyre out, says
Police Spokesman Officer Chris Lagerbloom.
But experts say curfews should reflect the views of the community
for example: kids with night jobs, or involved in extracurricular
activities, or with a note from their parents
Have specific exceptions to the rule, suggests
civic leader Debbie Gibson,
if you have parental
permission to be out at that time, then you would not fall
under this category, if youre coming home from a date
I mean you can kind of customize it to your own community.
. most kids wont like it.
I hate being home, hate having to be at a certain place
at a certain time
dont like it at all, confirms
But parents can explain to their children that a citywide
curfew for all kids is better than a parental curfew that
only applies to them.
If everyone else had to go at the same time I did, and
I knew everyone else wasnt out having fun
be like, alright, this is fine, says Michael.
Crime With Curfews
By Tom Atwood
Curfews have always been a controversial issue between parents
and children. Now the increasing use of curfews by towns and
citiesto fight juvenile crimeis generating controversy
nationwide. The National League of Cities recently polled
800 cities that have implemented curfews. The survey, conducted
by Insta-Poll, shows that curfews are cost-effective
and useful, and that a growing number of city
officials have confidence in curfews as an effective strategy
to help curb gang violence. However, the American Civil
Liberties Union opposes curfews for everyone, including teenagers,
because these laws criminalize normal and otherwise
lawful behaviorsuch as standing on a street cornerand
are unconstitutionally vague and broad.
Listed below are some highlights from the National League
of Cities curfew survey. Of the 800 cities polled:
- 97% say curfews are effective in combating juvenile crime.
- 96% say curfews are effective in fighting truancy.
- 88% say curfews are effective in reducing gang violence.
- 56% reported drops in violent crime within one year of
implementing a nighttime curfew.
- 55% reported a drop in gang activity.
- 88% reported no problems implementing their curfew.
- 89% said there were no significant new costs for their
More than half the cities polled (52%)
had curfews of 11p.m. during the week for children under 18.
The curfews were extended one hour to midnight on the weekends
by 55% of the surveyed cities. Daytime curfews are also being
implemented in some cities. Thirty-five percent cited school
hours as the hours of their daytime curfews. Another
21% reported 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. as their hours of enforcement.
The ACLU has been involved in legal battles against various
municipal curfew laws. The organization believes that curfews,
like other tough-sounding anti-crime strategies, are
not solutions. They divert the publics attention from
real crime prevention programs and mask the underlying causes
of crime. What curfews really mean, the ACLU says,
is that law abiding citizens will be stopped and questioned
for no reason. And inevitably, broad laws like these produce
uneven or discriminatory enforcementstudies have found
that curfew restrictions are disproportionately enforced in
What Parents Can Do
According to Girls and Boys Town, curfews set by parents
can teach valuable lessons to teenagers. Curfews can help
parents and children develop a trusting relationship.
When a teenager comes home on time, parents tend to trust
the teen more and consider him or her more responsible. Some
suggestions regarding curfews (from Girls and Boys Town)
- Before your teens go out, find out where they are going,
what theyll be doing, and whos driving, and
set up a clear time for when they
need to be home.
- Never let your teens go to parties or activities that
dont have adequate adult supervision.
- Check on your teens once in a while. Make a big deal
out it if they are where theyre supposed to be. Restrict
their activities for a while if theyre not where they
told you they would be.
- Within reason (generally between midnight and 1:00 a.m.)
extend your teens curfew if theyve demonstrated
they can be trusted.
- Establish a pattern of talking with your teens each night
after they come home. Its worth the loss of sleep.
- Frequently, talk with the parents of your teens
National League of Cities www.nlc.org
American Civil Liberties Union www.aclu.org
Girls and Boys Town www.parenting.org
Driving Curfew Reduces Teen Accidents
Reduces Teen Accidents
By Robert Seith
CWK Senior Producer
Friday night, you always see drag racing, speeding. Or, oh,
well jump the gun here or well run
this red light here.”
-Ed, Age 17.-
Almost every Friday night, 17-year-old Ed will take his car
out to a stretch of road popular with teens. He says he, his
friends, and a lot of teenagers out here like to push their
cars to the limit when the sun goes down.
Typical Friday night, Ed says, you always
see drag racing, speeding
or oh, well jump
the gun here or well run this red light
A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association
shows that in North Carolina, a 9 PM curfew for 16-year-old
drivers cut their accidents by 43%. That same decrease across
America would save thousands of lives.
Experts say young drivers are simply more dangerous at night.
Its a time of much greater excitement, explains
psychiatrist Dr. John Lochridge. Its a time of
challenge. Parents need to be ready for the fact that their
kids are not going to be able to handle driving in as mature
a way as they would in the daytime.
But Lochridge says a curfew has a double edge. It may save
lives, but when you stop kids from driving at night, that
prevents the kind of trail and error learning they really
need to learn.
Still, curfews are valuable, he says. If your state doesnt
have one, parents should enact their own, based
on their teenagers behavior.
Over time, if you show us you have good decision making
and maturity at the wheel, then we will continue to give you
later and later curfews and better driving privileges and
your life will be good, says Lochridge.
16-year-old Armando, who just got his license recently, says
that kind of approach sounds fair.
Yea, Id say that was fair, you know
probably you know, be a little safer so I wouldnt get
in trouble. Id like try to avoid speeding and what not,
cause I wouldnt want to have a curfew, you know?
Night Driving Saves Lives
By Tom Atwood
It makes sense that restricting teen driving at night would
save lives, but now a new study proves it. The study, published
in the October 3, 2001 issue of the Journal of The American
Medical Association (JAMA), examines teen drivers in North
Carolina. In 1997, the state enacted a graduated driver licensing
(GDL) system. Among other restrictions, the GDL system limits
unsupervised driving to daylight hours only. Since the GDL
went into effect:
- Nighttime crashes involving 16-year-old declined 43%.
- Fatal crashes declined 57%.
- Minor crashes declined 23%.
- Daytime crashes declined 20%.
What Parents Need To
How does a graduated driver licensing system work? According
to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration,
GDL allows young drivers to mature and develop their driving
skills as they progress through 3 stages of licensing. The
NHTSA lists these stages and their core components:
Stage 1Learners Permit
- A licensed parent, guardian or adult must supervise all
- Permit holder must complete basic driver education including
- Minimum holding period of six months.
- Permit is visually distinctive from other driver licenses.
Stage 2Intermediate License
- Successfully complete the learners permit stage.
- Allows for unsupervised driving during daylight hours.
- Restricted nighttime hours of driving unless supervised
by a licensed adult at least 21-years-old.
Stage 3Full License
- Successfully complete the intermediate license stage.
- Allows for unlimited driving privileges.
In addition, during the first two stages:
- All occupants must wear seat belts.
- Zero alcohol tolerance for those under age 21.
- Permit is cancelled if applicant is convicted of any
- Applicant must remain free of at-fault crashes and convictions
for least 6 to 12 consecutive months in order to move to
the next stage.
The NHTSA also says that limitations on carrying teenage
passengers should be an important component in any graduated
What Parents Can Do
In addition to placing limits on nighttime driving, there
are other things parents can do to help keep teen drivers
safe. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recommends
- Restrict passengers. Teen
passengers in a vehicle can easily distract a beginning
driver. 62% of teen passenger deaths occur in crashes with
a teen driver. While night driving with passengers is particularly
lethal, many fatal crashes with teen passengers occur during
the day. The best policy is to restrict teen passengers,
especially multiple teens, all the time.
- Supervise practice driving.
Take an active role in helping your teenager learn how to
- Remember you are a role model.
New drivers learn a lot by example, so practice safe driving
- Require safety belt use. Remember
that belt use is lower among teenagers than older people.
Insist on belts at all times.
- Prohibit driving after drinking.
Make it clear that its illegal and highly dangerous
for a teenager to drive after drinking. Even small amounts
of alcohol are impairing for teens.
- Choose vehicles for safety, not
image. Teenagers should drive vehicles that reduce
their chances of a crash and offer protection if they do
crash. Avoid trucks and sport utility vehiclesthe
smaller ones, especially, are prone to roll over.
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration
Journal of The American Medical Association www.jama.ama-assn.org
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety www.highwaysafety.org
Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles www.state.ma.us/rmv/dmanual/cht5/page9.htm