Greater Greater Washington

Public Safety


Teens need things to do, not a curfew

Yesterday, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett proposed setting a curfew on teenagers under 18, raising concerns about how young people are treated here and around the country.


Photo by thecourtyard on Flickr.

Expedited Bill 25-11 (PDF) would bar minors from being in public in Montgomery County after 11 pm on weeknights, and after midnight on weekends. Exceptions would be made for young people coming home from work, attending a school or church activity, or those accompanied by a parent or other authorized adult, and anyone caught breaking curfew would be taken to the nearest police station.

While it's true that curfews in other cities have sometimes successfully reduced crime (PDF), many feel they are unnecessarily restrictive and discriminatory against teenagers. They also don't address what may be the root cause of teen crime, which is a general lack of things to do.

After dark, there isn't much to do in Montgomery County, which contributes to the problem. Many of the county's movie theatres and bowling alleys have closed in recent years, so teens often end up in urban areas like Rockville Town Center, downtown Bethesda and downtown Silver Spring, where some of them get into trouble and harm others.

If there were more legitimate nighttime activities for teens, that would deter some of the illegitimate activities from happening. Parent groups often organize post-prom parties to deter drinking after school dances. Perhaps the Recreation Department or other organizations could set up similar events on other nights.

It's unclear whether a curfew in Montgomery County is actually necessary. Though Leggett's spokesman, Patrick Lacefield, claims that Montgomery has become a magnet for gang members coming from the District and Prince George's, police statistics show that youth crime in the county is decreasing.

The number of youth under 18 arrested each year has been steady for the past ten years and, in fact, fell for most of the decade. Meanwhile, the number of juvenile offenses recorded each year has fallen by 36 percent since 2001. According to the Washington Post, gang-related incidents in the county have dropped by more than half since 2007.

It could even be that the increase in public spaces such as downtown Silver Spring available to teens in Montgomery County may even be contributing to the decline in crime, since such places are effectively chaperoned by the general public. Cutting troublesome teens off from public spaces would only send them "underground" and out of sight.

Whether or not the proposed curfew would be effective, it may also be illegal. Teen curfews have faced many court challenges, often finding them to be too restrictive. In 2007, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the city of Lake Oswego, Oregon on behalf of four high school students, stating that a teen curfew there "criminalizes all youth" whether or not they had done anything wrong. Two years ago, a state appeals court in California struck down a teen curfew in San Diego that had many of the same provisions as Montgomery County's proposed curfew, arguing that the ban was too broad to be enforced.

There are better solutions. We can reduce crime and provide more activities for people of all ages in Montgomery County by creating more nightlife options in urban centers like downtown Silver Spring, putting eyes on the street and giving teenagers legitimate places to go.

The Fillmore music hall, which opens this fall, will do just that, putting two thousand ticket-buying people on the streets multiple times a week. More housing downtown will also keep the area populated and patrolled after the diners and concertgoers have left.

Teen curfews, like last year's county-imposed skateboarding ban in downtown Silver Spring, just punish all young people for the misdeeds of a few. What's next, mandatory summer school for everyone because a few kids flunked English?

With crime decreasing and the possibility of judicial challenge, a curfew in Montgomery County is a solution looking for a problem. There are more substantial ways to combat crime and boredom, so long as we're willing to find them.

The curfew bill goes before the Montgomery County Council at a public hearing on Tuesday, July 26, at the Council Office Building in Rockville. For more information, see the County Council website.

A planner and architect by training, Dan Reed also writes his own blog, Just Up the Pike, and serves as the Land Use Chair for the Action Committee for Transit. He lives in downtown Silver Spring. 

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Curfew laws are needed because parents do no parent.

No teen should be out past 10pm. Go home, go to sleep, hang out with your family.

The thought that society needs to create things for kids to do at all hours of the day is a hippie stupidity. There are things to do during the morning, day and evenings. At night, kids should be at home.

I fully support curfew laws. I do think however that the parent should not be the only one punished. If the kid is out past curfew, both the parents and the teen should have repercussions. Teach a kid what it means to be an adult.

by greent on Jul 13, 2011 2:45 pm • linkreport

A curfew will also take police resources from protecting against "real" crimes and devote them to arresting teens whose only crime is to be out after dark.

If teens are doing things that are illegal, arrest those teens for those crimes. You know, the crimes that are already illegal.

by Matt Johnson on Jul 13, 2011 2:51 pm • linkreport

While I completely understand the need for things for young people to do and have for years advocated for more and better things for youth to do, things to do and a youth curfew are not mutually exclusive.

It is true that enacting curfews is sometimes viewed by electeds as doing something. And it is. It's just not doing everything young people, their families and the community needs.

In my experience with the DC curfew legislation and early implementation, it seems that a good number of people complain about the curfew but fewer advocate regularly and over time for the more and better things for young people to do.

And let me just add that there is much more to this "giving kids something to do" idea than simply offering midnight basketball (I know, I know, it's only an example!). This issue, when unpacked, is about parenting, family relations, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, and much more.

Youth curfews are but one thing communities can do to keep young people safe. I agree with Mr. Reed that much must be done.

by Susie Cambria on Jul 13, 2011 2:55 pm • linkreport

right here in DC there used to be a number of excellent amusement parks- and by the late 60's they were all gone- except for Marshall Hall- which required a boat ride down river a little ways. The boomer generation had these wonderful amenities- but succeeding generations were denied these . A few good amusement parks would be a great thing for kids- & teens. In Copenhagen there is Tivoli- and when you go to Germany there are amusement parks in every other city. There is a far less stuffy atmosphere in Europe- drinking laws are more liberal- and there is alot less crime. We need to get over our anal puritanism here in the USA and open up a little more to fun stuff.

by w on Jul 13, 2011 2:58 pm • linkreport

Let's say there is a perfect world where the is "stuff to do." What place would be open after midnight on weekends that does not involve alcohol?

Send the kids home. My parents gave me a curfew and I turned out just fine.

by J on Jul 13, 2011 3:02 pm • linkreport

This is needed more in PG County and the District than MC

by TGEoA on Jul 13, 2011 3:05 pm • linkreport

Teenagers who don't have places to go are teenagers who end up getting high in mom's basement. I don't see how that's preferable to much of anything.

by BeyondDC on Jul 13, 2011 3:09 pm • linkreport

Dan Reed wrote:

After dark, there isn't much to do in Montgomery County, which contributes to the problem.
---------------------------

I don't see how that has anything to do with the proposed curfew law since the curfew is for 11 PM and midnight, not at dark.

I'm also not sure that the curfew helps solve any problems, such as juvenile crime, but I also don't think that much good happens past midnight either.

by Fitz157 on Jul 13, 2011 3:19 pm • linkreport

Seriously, why should kids be doing anything other than being at home after 11pm or midnight?

by JustMe on Jul 13, 2011 3:21 pm • linkreport

When I was 16 and 17, I was often at a friend's house until later than that. Teenagers don't want to be cooped up in the house all the time and tend to go to sleep late. We're not talking about 8-year-olds here.

by David Alpert on Jul 13, 2011 3:24 pm • linkreport

Seriously, why should kids be doing anything other than being at home after 11pm or midnight?

Because teens' circadian clocks are set differently from adults and younger children-they're wide awake way into the wee hours. Don't you remember?

by Tina on Jul 13, 2011 3:26 pm • linkreport

David Alpert wrote:

When I was 16 and 17, I was often at a friend's house until later than that. Teenagers don't want to be cooped up in the house all the time and tend to go to sleep late. We're not talking about 8-year-olds here.

-------------------------------

I did the same as you but I usually just ended up sleeping over at my friends place. I think that there is a difference between hanging out at a friends house until 2 or 3 AM and being out and about until 2 or 3 AM.

by Fitz157 on Jul 13, 2011 3:29 pm • linkreport

"Seriously, why should kids be doing anything other than being at home after 11pm or midnight?"

Like you were in bed by 9pm every night? There are legitimate reasons. Late-night study session. Hanging out with friends. Going to a diner or a movie. All things that don't involve alcohol and are not signs of gang activity. In high school, my friends and I spent Saturday nights in our friend Cheryl's basement playing board games until after midnight. If I didn't want to sleep over, I went home. And I could get pulled over for Scrabble? I might as well have been drinking.

by dan reed! on Jul 13, 2011 3:32 pm • linkreport

Actually, mandatory summer school because test scores in the country are a national embarrassment is a good idea. Teens forget most of what they learned the previous year during the summer months.

by Daniel on Jul 13, 2011 3:35 pm • linkreport

While it's true that curfews in other cities have sometimes successfully reduced crime (PDF), many feel they are unnecessarily restrictive and discriminatory against teenagers.

"many feel"? Do you have numbers to back that statement up? I don't mean to be confrontational, I just want to make sure there is indeed a strong opposition to curfews in Montgomery Co.

They also don't address what may be the root cause of teen crime, which is a general lack of things to do.

Lack of things to do is the root cause of crime? Is there evidence to support this? Because I would think of bad parenting or a lack of parents and role models as well as various social pathologies as being more influential.

Frankly, there appears to be a tradeoff between civil liberties and public safety, so wouldn't you want to look at the forecasted crime reduction and weigh it methodically against the loss of civil liberties?

by EJ on Jul 13, 2011 3:36 pm • linkreport

A few friends and I were outraged by the possibility of a curfew and have started a little movement to get teens mobilized against the law, and we're glad to finally see an adult who realizes how wrong the county is to suggest this policy. Curfews are not just tricky to justify logically and politically, they are also ineffective!

Join us here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=117757294984934

by Leah Muskin-Pierret on Jul 13, 2011 3:42 pm • linkreport

If we're going to have a curfew then it should be later at 1 or 2 am. Many movie theaters have screenings that go until 1am. Not to mention that if teens are out late breaking the law then shouldn't the law they're breaking (drinking, murder, whatever) be the one they're charged with no matter what time of day?

That said, many activities that me and my friends enjoy take place at bars (concerts, kareoke, trivia) and with that you have to usually be 21. Me and my friends had less boring saturday nights once we were able to actually patronize many of the places around the city that are open later even my friends who don't drink.

Places that have teens loitering should also keep up foot patrol beats for cops to help keep the peace when young people make immature decisions. The presence of an authority is better than trying to ban it in your area.

by Canaan on Jul 13, 2011 3:43 pm • linkreport

In practice, the cops don't harass every teen out that late. In practice, cops use the law as an excuse to break up suspicious situations.

I would be very surprised if cops were posted outside of a movie theater waiting to bust teens as they leave a late show.

I remember my teens as well. Nothing good happened after 11pm.

by J on Jul 13, 2011 3:52 pm • linkreport

I think MD already has a curfew for driving as part of the Graduated Drivers License (GDL) program, no? Many states do. I've seen the national data from these driving curfews as part of GDL programs and they save lives, especially so when coupled with restrictions on having teen passengers.

However I think this wholesale curfew unrelated to anything other than being young and awake in the nighttime is wrong.

by Tina on Jul 13, 2011 3:54 pm • linkreport

Another legal activity teens could be doing late at night: going to concerts. The punk scene in DC has always had all-ages shows, and there are a number of venues, from the big 9:30 Club to house shows, that let in kids under 21. So a curfew would effectively bar teens from these events, whether they're attending one in Montgomery County or coming home from one elsewhere.

by dan reed! on Jul 13, 2011 3:55 pm • linkreport

I agree that what is needed is vigorous enforcement of existing laws rather than piling on extra laws. If teens are out all night committing crimes, then please simply step up enforcement and punishment for these crimes. It's not necessary to manufacture contrived "things to do" - trust me, teenagers can entertain themselves just fine and don't typically respond well to activities manufactured by well-meaning blue hairs. It's also not necessary to make being out on a date or at your buddy's house after 11 a crime. Just go out there and bust people who are committing crimes.

by anon on Jul 13, 2011 4:01 pm • linkreport

Some comments:

You ought to comment on Council President Valerie Ervin's position, which is a localized curfew.

Further, Tina is right. Maryland does have a 12 am curfew for all drivers who get their license under age 18 for the first 18 months of their licensed life. Because you have to be 16 years and 3 months old to get your license, it is a type of curfew for those who are driving.

by thesixteenwords on Jul 13, 2011 4:05 pm • linkreport

Residents of all public housing - including adults ANF teens- should be subject to manditory curfews- and these curfews should be tied to the incidence of violent crimes generating from these projects. This could have the effect of lowering crime in an entire city. One public housing project brings down an entire area. The problem is obvious.

by w on Jul 13, 2011 4:08 pm • linkreport

..so if MoCo passes this (imo)stupid curfew will the state law allowing teens to drive up to midnight trump it? Great - an incentive for inexperienced drivers to drive more at night!

by Tina on Jul 13, 2011 4:09 pm • linkreport

I live in DC and I do not see where the curfew has worked. I still see young people out very late all over the city. Our crime is down a great deal from the bad years of the 80's, and being outside should not be considered a crime. If you actually commit a crime while you are out then anyone should be prosecuted, teen or otherwise. Also, I do not think valuable law enforcement resources should be used to enforce something that does not work and is discriminatory against other human beings. All this does is give political cover and shows political laziness for the MC council as it did for the DC council. The politicians can tell the public they 'did something' and now leave them alone about making real and lasting recommendations or finding solutions young peoples issues. Firstly we as adults never ask the young people or anyone for that matter who is affected by the laws that are passed, what would be their suggestions to solve some of the issues they face as young people. Again we think we have all the answers and do these stupid moves, of curfews and the like, which just drive all teens activity underground where you have no visibility. I agree this is a law looking for a crime. Also, you have politicians who feel they need to control everyone's movement or actions. This fuels their ego that they are lording over the masses.

by DCSW on Jul 13, 2011 4:10 pm • linkreport

@anon "trust me, teenagers can entertain themselves just fine and don't typically respond well to activities manufactured by well-meaning blue hairs"

I totally agree that for the most part teens can occupy themselves. But there is talk of building a Teen Center in downtown Silver Spring, and we will need to create some programming for it.

@thesixteenwords

A localized curfew is still a curfew. Presumably, a localized curfew would happen in places like downtown Silver Spring, which would just encourage the good kids to take their business elsewhere. Who does that help?

by dan reed! on Jul 13, 2011 4:15 pm • linkreport

@J "cops use the law as an excuse to break up suspicious situations"

And that's exactly the problem with laws like this. They rely on the myth of responsible police officers who never abuse their authority. This is supposed to be a society of laws, laws that are fairly applied to everyone. Where individuals have rights and don't get harassed based upon the whims of authorities. Hell well you are at it why don't we strip everyone of all their rights so police can more just round up whoever they think looks suspicious young or old.

by Doug on Jul 13, 2011 4:30 pm • linkreport

w,
Amusement parks? Really. That gets expensive pretty quick. And then people would complain about too many kids hanging out there. Tivoli isn't that great of an example. It closes at 10 or 11PM, except its open till midnight on some nights in the summer. Plus, its overrun with annoying drunk Swedish people, made worse since the bridge opened. DC & environs isn't NYC, but there's plenty to do for teens up to the hours of 11PM. After that, theres no real reason to be out unless you're looking for trouble.

by spookiness on Jul 13, 2011 4:38 pm • linkreport

@ w

So you believe in blaming all for the actions of one or a few ?

So how would be work if there is a curfew that is the stupidest and discriminating ideas ever mentioned on here.

How would you feel if they idea was used on age, race, gender, social class, education, speech, knowledge, disability etc. How would you feel if everybody gets blamed if one person does something wrong in an entire city or state.

by kk on Jul 13, 2011 4:41 pm • linkreport

I don't see why they don't just enforce existing laws. When I was in high school my friends and I would sometimes walk to the local 7-Eleven to get some snacks for late-night movie/gaming sessions at like 1 or 2AM. The worst thing we did was smoke on the way there. We were not up to no good, and we certainly never would have committed crimes. Instead of increasing enforcement to enforce a curfew, increase it to enforce laws. Have high police visibility in problem areas. To be honest I'm not sure where exactly young teens hanging out is an issue, but maybe I'm looking at the problem through Bethesda lenses.

On the flipside, I think the "teens have nothing to do" thing is a cop-out. My friends and I didn't have shit to do before one of us got a car, but we didn't sit there thinking "well we don't have anything to do, might as well go rob some people." Know why? Because we were raised by good parents in good environments. And who's gonna end up footing the bill for these "things to do"? The taxpayer. I'd rather not be subsidizing a red herring of an argument, thanks.

by Martin on Jul 13, 2011 4:51 pm • linkreport

Another question is, well, what are the implications for people like me? I'm 20 but I still get carded when I buy cigarettes. I wouldn't be surprised if police officers would also err on the side of suspicion. Would I have to carry my driver's license everywhere? Because how else would you prove you are above the age of majority?

Pretty sure a lot of people were just complaining about the Arizona immigration law and its requirement for carrying papers. How would this be any different?

by Martin on Jul 13, 2011 4:53 pm • linkreport

"Would I have to carry my driver's license everywhere?"

I'd assume giving them your DOB and name would be fine, just as it always is.

by jag on Jul 13, 2011 5:03 pm • linkreport

@Martin

We should be encouraging legitimate activities so that people can go out and have legal fun, legally - and to push out illegitimate activities. If kids (and adults) are out in downtown Silver Spring eating, going to shows, and drinking (the adults, that is), then you don't have as many opportunities for people to act out. The presence of other people is a crime deterrent.

So no, I'm not saying we need to start midnight basketball so that thugs won't be about causing harm. They'll be doing it anyway. And they'll be doing it after a curfew is instituted - of course then cops will be too busy writing up all of the other kids to deal with it.

by dan reed! on Jul 13, 2011 5:07 pm • linkreport

I support the curfew. Movies and concerts that are teen appropriate can and do start earlier in the evening and end earlier in the evening. The concept that the world's entertainment clock needs to revolve around ex-new yorkers is ridiculous.

It's not that "nothing good happens" after 11pm or midnight, it's that there's no valid reason NOT to have a curfew if MC thinks that it will reduce the risks to kids.

"Teenagers" aren't a protected class that are entitled to 100% civil rights. They are by definition emotionally immature, and are not fiscally accountable. Adults are allowed more freedoms, because they carry more accountability. That's the tradeoff in life.

It's also not society's responsibility to pay for enough cops to run around chasing kids during the graveyard shift. The county has determined that teenagers are an unnecessary burden on law enforcement. Teens are going to have to suck it up and find more constructive day time opportunities to have fun.

by eb on Jul 13, 2011 5:10 pm • linkreport

As a resident of downtown Silver Spring, I think Silver Spring should incorporate and get themselves out of the jurisdiction of MoCo.

That said, I support a curfew in DTSS and think we need a heavier police presence to run these thugs back to DC and PG.

by Redline SOS on Jul 13, 2011 5:11 pm • linkreport

There's a sort of equation balancing between solving problems by adding more law enforcement at known repeat trouble spots (can anyone say "Ellsworth"?), and at the other extreme, blanket prohibitions covering even the putatively innocent. When speaking of adults, it's essential to always err on the side of presumption of innocence. With minors, there's a lot more "wiggle room" especially when the State has to act "in loco parentis", which concept really only applies to minors in practical matters.

A local curfew, for example, one amounting to "skate rats and out-of-towners out of DTSS by midnight on weekends" is hardly infringing on the rights of 16-year-olds to go see a movie that ends after curfew begins. I'd think that this proposed ordnance should have some exceptions specifically to cover this particular set of situations. All anyone would have to do would be to produce their ticket stubs (you just saw a Black Flag reunion and didn't save the ticket stub? No street cred for you!) and say that they're headed home... and then actually head home. Headed home from a movie that lets out at 11:15PM? Same thing. Save your ticket stubs, kids, they're a "keep out of jail card".

That being said, I was young once and that was here in MoCo, in Aspen Hill to be exact. Here, for sure, there is zip diddly nada to do for free or cheap. At least that was true back in the day, and whatever things were inexpensive or free (visiting at friends' houses, sports down at the schoolyard or park) are closed by 11:00. Indeed, here in Aspen Hill, most of the things that cost more money than kids usually have, they're closed at 11:00 too. That would cover most shopping and dining outside of 7-11 and Taco Bell, and about the only other things open are the gas-stations, and places that serve alcohol which should have no minor customers in any case.

There is, of course, the consideration that teens have evolved to have sleep and waking patterns that promote their survival by keeping them out of the way of adults who might tend to be grumpy in the morning. It's probably an equally good idea to keep them out of the way of adults who are out late at night, when there's a definitely increased likelihood of those adults being under the influence. While I can't recall any incidents of drunk adults beating minors in the places minor congregate, I seem to recall a lot of incidents making the news in which minors engaged in considerable violence in gathering spots frequented by adults in search of a good time and party atmosphere. Who would want to walk out of, say, Piratz after a long night of grog, and be confronted after midnight by a large-ish gathering of overly excitable teens? Not me.

So I'll come out in favor of a localized curfew for "youth", though I see no reason to keep the high-school Drama Club from staying out late to get their projects finished the night before the big show.

As always, though, I'll always favor more law-enforcement at the trouble-spots and the routes to and from them, over blanket curtailment of rights of the presumptively innocent.

by Thomas Hardman on Jul 13, 2011 5:31 pm • linkreport

@eb

Crime has gone DOWN in Montgomery County for the past ten years. It just doesn't make sense that suddenly teenagers are any worse a burden on law enforcement than they have been before. And besides, police in Silver Spring or wherever are there for the adults who're out to do harm as well. Again, the curfew means cops spend their time chasing all kids, not just the bad ones.

by dan reed! on Jul 13, 2011 5:35 pm • linkreport

I'm totally fine with curfews - as long as they're set by the parents, not the county. If parents are aware of where their kids are and are okay with them being out after 11 p.m. or midnight, and the kids aren't doing anything illegal, there's no reason for the county legislature/police to get involved. Before you chalk late-night teenagers' events up to bad parenting, let me remind you that there are a number of safe, legal, and 'wholesome' activities that many teenagers participate in that result in them getting home after 11 p.m. or midnight - concerts and mid-night premieres of movies, to name a few. I'm sure local movie theaters wouldn't appreciate the loss of business from local teenagers. Just because some things happen after midnight that are bad doesn't mean everything that happens after midnight are bad. It's totally unfair to demonize all teenagers simply because teenage crime exists. This just adds to the stereotype that all teenagers are obnoxious delinquents, which is simply not true. The law needs to stop telling parents how to parent their children. Only punish teenagers when they do something wrong.

by Vita on Jul 13, 2011 5:40 pm • linkreport

That said, I support a curfew in DTSS and think we need a heavier police presence to run these thugs back to DC and PG.

That's funny. On the weekend nights, I want a bigger police prescence to run the thugs out of Adams Morgan that come from Maryland and VA.

If parents would parent, kids would not be out on the street past 11. Movies and concerts? Too bad. Either hte venuw should move the concert to 7p - 10p for teens or those concerts will be there when you are 18.

Get home kids. That's why you are kids. You don't have the full autonmous life of an adult. Because you are a kid.

by greent on Jul 13, 2011 6:00 pm • linkreport

As a teen myself, i feel the best option is to not only provide good things to do, but also to make areas better-lit and develop new outreach programs to combat gang activities. I live in Virginia, which brings up the question of how do you deal with out-of-county/state teens?

by vanmo96 on Jul 13, 2011 6:09 pm • linkreport

Dan, how about before you write something about these "angel children" from DC and PG County (who r the main reason for this curfew) you take a walk around chinatown, adams morgon, and largo town center and then you come back and tell us we dont need a teen curfew

by mike on Jul 13, 2011 6:38 pm • linkreport

MS has no curfew.

by John on Jul 13, 2011 8:47 pm • linkreport

The classic suburban ploy, blame it on people from somewhere else. Yet, it primarily will effect their residents. If juvenile crime is declining, it must still be popping up in places where powerful people like to go. The kinds of activities that rec departs sponsor often don't grab the most troublesome, but they do provide less of an audience for them. Few places are fun and relatively wholesome for teenagers, but suburbs are deadly dull unless you have a car and unless there are cheap, reasonably supervised entertainments. MoCo has always had people who weren't in overachieving, heavily supervised families. Now it has more of them and I'd guess that what ever is happening now reflects a chronic lack of imagination about what to do for kids who aren't in boy scouts little league or high school extracurriculars. I used to house/pet sit occasionally in a family-filled neighborhood where Rockville meets "pretend Potomac". If you looked closely, you that kids were there but you only saw kids in places near the periphery where they had t-ball, etc. the neighborhood park which had a ball diamond was empty. Kids never played outside. the only people I ever saw out on a pleasant summer evening were other people walking dogs. This is not an environment that teaches people to make their own fun and absent the organized activities, I would wonder how kids in a rather "wholesome" area like this would spend their time. As I later learned from a colleague in the area, they did it by getting into trouble. A curfew won't fix that and I doubt that it will get many parents into line, because they need some alternative to little league or minor delinquency and they haven't provided the environment for that.

by Rich on Jul 13, 2011 10:21 pm • linkreport

@mike

The District and Prince George's already have curfews, so presumably if you see kids there at night, they're over 18. I agree that we should find a way to deal with the kids who are causing trouble. But we don't need to do it at the expense of everyone else.

@greent

My parents let me go to movies or concerts at the 9:30 Club that let out after 11pm/midnight. When I was done, I'd catch the Metro home and that was that. I think I turned out okay, and I bet most kids whose apparently negligent parents do the same turned out okay as well.

by dan reed! on Jul 13, 2011 11:22 pm • linkreport

What Vita said.

by Tina on Jul 13, 2011 11:31 pm • linkreport

Dan brought up a good point a little while ago.

The presence of this silly, unjustifiable, and needlessly punitive law will make kids respect the law less across the board.

If being outdoors is a crime, you might as well get high while doing it.

by andrew on Jul 14, 2011 12:11 am • linkreport

I read that the curfew in DC and PG is what's bringing all the ruffians to DTSS. Is that true?

by Thayer-D on Jul 14, 2011 7:09 am • linkreport

when i was a teenager, the city where i lived had a blanket 1am-5am curfew. unless you had a government-issued permit to be on the street during that time, there was a good chance you'd get shot in the head by the military.

the law was well-respected. bring out the national guard.

by AJ on Jul 14, 2011 7:32 am • linkreport

AJ,
Are you sarcastic or did you live in East Berlin in the 60's?

by spookiness on Jul 14, 2011 8:45 am • linkreport

Some one living at public housing actually works in a day to day real job? As far as Im concerned, after having lived next to more than a few of these places, a curfew would NOT prevent the residents of public housing from engaging in their most lucrative trades- that is- drugs and prostitution. Both should be decriminalized anyway. It will take the violence out of it and allow these folks a way to get out of poverty.Anyone who actually has a real job or business or school, medical , whatever, outside the projects would of course show ID.

by w on Jul 14, 2011 8:52 am • linkreport

Thayer-D wrote: I read that the curfew in DC and PG is what's bringing all the ruffians to DTSS. Is that true?

It sure looks that way.

As in so many other issues about crime, it's all too much like "whack a mole". If you bang it down one place, it just pops up somewhere else. The only approach that can work is to bang all places at once so that anything trying to pop up gets a hammer on the head before it can even fully emerge.

However, it's useful to be reminded that the real problem group is not just the minors, call them 13 through 17. The real problem group centers mostly around the age range of about 16-23 or so.

I can't think of much that can be done other than aggressive policing and harsh judgments in the courts for the 18 through 23 age range. Yet the worst of this thuggery and troublemaking occurs at night, generally starting about the time that the curfew would start sending home the minors.

I suppose one might say that what's happening is that one particular subculture -- one of youth abusiveness and violence -- attempts to assume primacy at that time, to dominate the other subcultures at least during those hours. Since the majority of the subcultures don't like that abusive and violent subculture, we elect to suppress it. One of the best ways to do that is to keep the younger elements, who are impressionably experimenting with various subcultures, isolated from this violent and abusive "older generation". There will always be individuals who are sick with violence and hate, but if we can keep it from being transmitted as a culture, our approaches to dealing with it become easily more simple and straightforward...

Because if we don't stamp it out as a culture, then it goes from a state not merely bridging a line between subgenerations of sub-adult and young-adult, it can become a full life cycle culture and go multigenerational.

I think we can all agree that we don't want that.

by Thomas Hardman on Jul 14, 2011 11:04 am • linkreport

Curfew, curfew, curfew! There are more teens then there will ever be in "teen-appropriate" activities. They should not be out after 10 anyway. Send them home to let their parent(s) deal with them.

Either that or arrest the parent's of minors that break the law. Then, things would change.

by John @ RI Ave Stn on Jul 14, 2011 12:32 pm • linkreport

I have removed a comment by tanisha that called another commenter "an idiot." Tanisha, we welcome having you comment and appreciate your perspective, but namecalling against other people is not an acceptable way to make a point on GGW. Please feel free to repost your comment without that portion, or you can say something like, "You seem to be misinformed" instead.

by David Alpert on Jul 14, 2011 2:34 pm • linkreport

John wrote-They should not be out after 10 anyway. Send them home to let their parent(s) deal with them.
Either that or arrest the parent's of minors that break the law. Then, things would change.

First off we are talking about teenagers here soon to be adults not 7 year olds. Teens dont go to bed at 8 and wait for there moms to kiss them good night. They have plenty of resposiblitys that keep then up past 10 such as Jobs, Sports, realashionships. I know when i was a teen i would be up working untill 10 or 11 at night and would have to walk home after. Also teens go out at night to have fun hang with friends, go to the movies since when is that a crime? you cant posssibly tell me in your years of being a teen you never stayed out past 10 and why are teens the olny ones having there rights takin away when there is just as much if not more and more serious crimes comited by adults? Its so typical USA to blam the small weaker group and punish them Race, Age, Sex its always the same problim. we need to fix this by putting more cops out there to protet people from all criminals of all ages, race and sex not put this ineffctive law that wont stop crime olny keep the good kids at home and make the govermnet feel like they did somthing.
Also John please tell me how in the world aressting prarents would help at all not olny will there be thosands of kids out on the street now parentless but are we now also going to take away the rights of the parent since when should a parent be sent to jail for deciding how to raise there kid and how long they can stay out?

by Jake on Jul 14, 2011 3:50 pm • linkreport

I wanted to correct my earlier statment its not us as the USA that is bioesed and picks on the weak but rather all hummens. A part of are hummen nature that time cant seem to get rid of :p

by Jake on Jul 14, 2011 4:07 pm • linkreport

@ Dan reed: wow, congratulations. When I was a kid, I had a curfew. Because society taught me that kids are kids, and they are not adults.

Teenagers are not adults. Provide activities for teenagers during the day and evening. After 10 pm, it is adult time. Kids can stay home. I don't get to play in parks that are for kids, I don't expect kids to be out after 10 pm.

When the streetlights come on, you should be 18, or inside a house.

Waaaaaaa. Poor teenagers have nothign to do. Then they'll turn to drugs and crime and get pregnant. Waaaaaaa. The day this workld decided the whole point of adults living is to bow down to children makes this society a joke. Waaaaaaaa. If kids commite crimes: arrest them. If kids do drugs: arrest them. If kids get pregnant... arrest them. (Kids need consistency after all)

:)

by greent on Jul 14, 2011 4:40 pm • linkreport

Did you liek my horrible spelling? I did. I blame the adults for not giving me somethign to do when I was bored.

Board.

Kids.

Booooring.

by greent on Jul 14, 2011 4:42 pm • linkreport

The point of different rights for minors is for parents to have some leverage in raising their children. Indeed, the parents should have the right to exercise their own judgement over what time the curfew is, because they know their children better. In cases where there is more proof that something is important, the backing of the law is justified. "Kids is kids" isn't good enough of an argument.

A curfew law is begging for selective enforcement. The cops aren't going to harass kids unless they think they're up to no good. The number of exceptions in DC's law is enough to make it just another arbitrary police power.

by Neil Flanagan on Jul 14, 2011 5:09 pm • linkreport

"A curfew law is begging for selective enforcement."

What law isn't? Seriously. This is the best lesson for kids: cops enforce rules selectively. Act appropriately.

" "Kids is kids" isn't good enough of an argument. "

yeah, it is. Children are nto adults, they do not have the rights of adults. That is a perfectly valid reason.

If you do not believe it is, make an argument that children have the right - the legal right - to be out at any time of their choosing. Their parents can already exempt them, so that don't fly.

If midnight is too early, is any c urfew appropriate? Kid wants to be out at 3 am. That is fine to the GGW hippie lefties, right?!?! If they are out and commit any type of crime - it's because society failed to provide them activities at 3 am! It's societies fault. Right?!?!

Responsibility begins at home. Go home and learn it.

by greent on Jul 14, 2011 5:23 pm • linkreport

Well, your point would be more persuasive if you could actually argue why kids don't have responsibilities or rights. There are plenty of good arguments, but I'm not going to do your research for you. What am I, a helicopter parent?

So, no legal curfew isn't adding responsibility. It's disincentivizing it for parents, because they can just rely on the law instead of their own rules. For teens, it's just another dumb rule with no palpable connection between actions and consequence.

But if thinking that the police should be held to the letter of the law, I guess I oughta go to a NAMBLA/NARAL rap session.

by Neil Flanagan on Jul 14, 2011 5:49 pm • linkreport

@Neil F. - The cops aren't going to harass kids unless they think they're up to no good. This is blatantly naive or uninformed or just lucky in your own experience or something, but its the exact opposite of what I know happens.
In my experience cops seek out teenagers to harrass and even physically brutalize, mostly boys. Though as a girl I was harrassed too my brothers and men friends got it much worse. I don't want cops to have any small excuse to approach my kid as s/he makes his/her way home from a friends or a movie.

@greent- Responsibility begins at home. Agreed; NOT in the County Council. See Vida's comment above.

I can't believe that the people claiming that kids couldn't possibly be up to anything positive (or even just benign) late at night don't have any happy memories from their own childhoods of late night activities. Here's a short list of mine:
Running in all night relays at the HS track (only once but it was memorbale)
midnight movies
Midnight shows at the planetarium
midnight ice-skating
Midnight bowling
Coming home from away sporting events that went late
Coming home after late studying
Hanging out by a bon fire
Playing games like kick-the-can outside until very late - I spent countless summer hours doing this night after night with a group of kids.

by Tina on Jul 14, 2011 6:15 pm • linkreport

Tina - Sorry, that's precisely what I meant. Perhaps I should have been more clear that what an officer thinks or feels, or even wants to believe about a teen's activity might not have anything to do with whether the kid's doing something actually illegal.

I'd rather have the parents exercise that judgement than cops.

by Neil Flanagan on Jul 14, 2011 6:27 pm • linkreport

Also, not everything kids have to do at night is fun. People have jobs that keep them out after sundown.

by Neil Flanagan on Jul 14, 2011 6:29 pm • linkreport

Im 15 and I dont need a curfew, im not a criminal. I am a hard working student, Young Democrat and Suporter of Trade unions, I am also a diehard capitalist. A Curfew would just make me want to be out even more, What are they going to do arrest every single teenager. Enforcing this curfew is a waist of County and Municipal Funds.

by JP on Jul 14, 2011 7:06 pm • linkreport

@Neil F.-oh i misunderstood the cop thing. Sorry I suggested you may be naive or uninformed.

People have jobs that keep them out after sundown. Yes. I even had a parttime job that sometimes got me home late. I knew several people (siblings & friends) who worked even later than me. I was lucky but I knew kids whose jobs were very important to their families' economic stability. Even if the job ends at 10:30 it could take >half hr. to get home. I think there's a federal law prohibiting kids<18 from working past a certain hour now? IDK.

There are thousands of kids all over greater washington lining up for Harry potter movie tix tonight. They will be there all night. The movie opens tomorrow. Should they all be hauled off to the police station? Its just crazy.

by Tina on Jul 14, 2011 7:19 pm • linkreport

In Virginia, under 18 can't drive after midnight, which seems a good restriction to me (as the parent of 17- and 15-year-olds). Not to sound like an old fart, but nothing good happens after midnight.

by Greg on Jul 14, 2011 9:04 pm • linkreport

Why do the parents of students attending one of the top school systems In the nation need the government to pass laws dictating how to raise their kids? The attitude in this geographical area is that parents know everything about education and child development. Common sense dictates that your minor child should not be roaming the streets at night; if you think it's ok, then you really should go to jail for being an idiot. Is the county looking for new ways to raise revenue or are they unable to convict minors of criminal offenses? Or is this just another system that provides kids with several attempts until they get it right?

by MCPS TEACHER on Jul 15, 2011 5:39 am • linkreport

What happened? The bright parents of Montgomery County don't know their children should be at home late at night? No? Then enforce the laws that protect us from their brats' criminal behavior and arrest the little wannabe gangsters; their parents can be held accountable at that time. Leave us law-abiding parents and children alone; stop infringing on our rights and punish those that don't follow the rules rather than continuing this policy (like the school system) of NOT HOLDING KIDS ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR BEHAVIOR. It's so sad to see no deference, accountability, or responsibility coming from kids because adults continue to coddle them and give them numerous chances to get that passing score. Nice job - passing scores but irreverent, delinquent kids with a great sense of entitlement. Disgusting. Maybe if they learned right from wrong instead of accelerated math we would have a better society.

by MCPS TEACHER on Jul 15, 2011 5:54 am • linkreport

I agree. Arrest those parents AND their offspring for breaking current laws. How about the PARENTS set the curfew they think is appropriate for their kids? Thats just what we need- another reason for the police to harass people as they fill quotas. Whats going on in our society? Public servants have become the bill collectors for the County, and meanwhile first graders in the entire county will not be receiving math workbooks this year. Where are our resources going?

by Ms. H on Jul 15, 2011 6:11 am • linkreport

I completly agree parents should be the once to chosse how long there own kids can stay out. They know there kids best not the law. The parents know if they can trust there kids being out late. and when the should be in based on how mature they are and the reason they will be out. could be for work or for fun this might change how late they should be out on differnt nights. we dont need a law to unforce us to make are kids be home at a certain time its the parents right to raise there own kid.

by Jake on Jul 15, 2011 11:32 am • linkreport

Oh and p.s to Grennt

Grennt said- Teenagers are not adults. Provide activities for teenagers during the day and evening. After 10 pm, it is adult time. Kids can stay home. I don't get to play in parks that are for kids, I don't expect kids to be out after 10 pm

Your right teenagers are not adults yet. But they most certainly are not kids by any mean? i mean realy are you joking when do you see teenagers playing on a play ground? Thats as likly as seeing a 70 year old man in a gym. and to say that a Teen ager is a kid is like saying that 64 year old is young and does not have wisdom yet cause they are not a senoir yet your logic just dosent make sence.

Then you said-yeah, it is. Children are nto adults, they do not have the rights of adults. That is a perfectly valid reason.

So this is to say that Teens should just be seen as a second class citizen then? i understand teens are not down growing and need to have rules but that dosent mean say " ahh screw you your just a kid and im an adult im gonna go have fun tonight cause i can and you cant" no we need to give them bonderices but let them grow teach them resoniblites they are people to and need to be treated as such. If we give them the inpresion we olny see them as a secons cause Citizen they wont have any RESPECT for there PRARENTS or the LAW!

by Jake on Jul 15, 2011 11:59 am • linkreport

@Grennt stated- If the kid is out past curfew, both the parents and the teen should have repercussions.if kids commite crimes: arrest them. If kids do drugs: arrest them If kids get pregnant... arrest them. (Kids need consistency after all)teach a kid what it means to be an adult. :)

WOW grennt ok lets see here so your saying we should all be hypocrits here and punish kids as adults try kids as adults and quote" teach a kid what it means to be an adult" yet treat them as if they were 5 years old. what does that show them it is to be an adult abuse power? give them the same punishment as an adult with harsher laws agginst them and still treat them with no respect? where is the justice in that? Now i do completly agree with you that teens or adults should both have strong puishments on things such as drugs, or viloence. But if they are to me punished like an adult they need to be treated more as an adult and not have these rediculious laws put on them. Rules that there parents should be making and enforcing its not your job or a cops job to tell parents how to parent. Also Aressting a Girl for getting PREGINENT is!? how could you even recomend that? how would that help putting all the teens in jail that are preginent so her and her childed will have a horrible life it is 100% that young girls choice to keep a baby or get an abortion and to say that all girls under 18 that get preginet to go to jail is unbelivable. sex is a natrual thing at that age. i am not promtoing teens doing this at all! but its just a fact that it happins and they should abosulty not go to jail for somthing like that.If that ever became an unforced law id loss faith in the freedom and rights we are suppost to have in this country!

by Kilroy on Jul 15, 2011 3:01 pm • linkreport

Dear Kilroy: sarcasm is beyond your comprehension I see. note the :) after the comments.

Killroy: "id loss faith in the freedom and rights we are suppost to have in this country!"

See - you are learnin what it means to be an adult after all!

Children do not need to be out past 10 pm... 11pm is being generous. I am not saying to treat a teen like a 5 year old. 5 year olds should not be out at all without a person over 16 to watch them, and I would support a 6 pm curfew for 5 years.

Dear Jake: "when do you see teenagers playing on a play ground"

Gee, when I was a teenager, we hung out at the parks. We played basketball at the park. We swung on the swing-sets. Parks are not only for precious little toddlers. But I guess they are not cool enough for the modern teen.

Kids are not "2nd class citizens" like gays, women and minorities have been. But newsflash: they are not adults - they do not have full unadulterated rights. They cannot vote and they cannot serve jury duty - the main responsibilities of citizens. They do not have unencumbered freedom of movement (we force children to go to school - whether in the home or a spearate buidling). A teenager does NOT have full rights over their own body. So, yeah, I am fine with limiting their ability to be roaming around after a certain time. Just like I am fine not letting them drive with other teens in the car.

Teenagers aren't adults. We do not need to create things for them to do at all hours of the day. They do not need "things to do" as Mr. Reed stated. They need to be home.

@Tina: @greent said: Responsibility begins at home. Agreed; NOT in the County Council.

Well, if the HOME would be friggin responsibile for keeping tabs on their children, and keeping their children off the streets, maybe govt wouldn't need to step in. But hey, we had truancy officers in the past, because parents wouldn't send their kids to school. So yeah, argument wasted already.

@neal: So, no legal curfew isn't adding responsibility.

Yes it is. it is adding responsibiloty to the PARENTS by makin them watch their kids and it teaches kids there are limits to what they can do. Oh sure, they'll push those limits, and guess what that teachable moment means?

Poor poor teenagers can't get everything they want whenever they want at all times that they want. Poor poor teenagers, adults say you have to be in your house at a certain time. Oh the horror.

The sense of entitlement in children nowaday is created by people who forgot that children are not adults.

by greent on Jul 15, 2011 3:40 pm • linkreport

@greent

Either you've had kids, or you will have kids, and you can set rules on when they can or can't be out and raise them as you see fit. That's your job as a parent, and the vast majority of parents (in Montgomery County or elsewhere) are capable of the same.

That said, you (as a mature, tax-paying adult) don't have the right to tell other people how to raise their kids. I'm proud to be from Montgomery County, and I think my experiences growing up there shaped me into the person I am. But I find the curfew really disappointing. As MCPS TEACHER said, this is one of the best school systems in the nation. This is a county filled with smart, talented, motivated kids who (thanks to good parents and a good education) know right from wrong. Some make mistakes. Others make a lot of mistakes and deserve to be sanctioned appropriately.

This isn't about what kids should or shouldn't be doing at night. This curfew is supposed to be a way to reduce crime in a county whose crime rates have been falling for years. Yet instead of finding ways to further reduce crime, we're creating a penalty for all young people. That doesn't make any sense to me.

by dan reed! on Jul 15, 2011 4:31 pm • linkreport

Do we really have to baby teenagers with curfews like this? Does the local police force have to be involved in parental capacities wasting limited resources? Kids have to learn some responsibility for themselves through their own choices and mistakes in life. Overblown entitlement among kids today seems to come from parents treating their teens like spoiled infants. These teens are going off to college soon right? What then? Does it become the professors' responsibility to babysit these kids as they come to expect no less. Want teens to grow up a bit? Telling them when to go to bed is not the way.

by jps on Jul 15, 2011 4:48 pm • linkreport

"Kids have to learn some responsibility for themselves through their own choices and mistakes in life. "

Exactly! So, give them a curfew, and teach them that the choice of breaking a law has consequences - for them and their parents.

"That said, you (as a mature, tax-paying adult) don't have the right to tell other people how to raise their kids."

Yes boyo, we do. Society tells people how to raise their kids everyday: we tell them they must educate them. we tell them they must feed them - and we advise them on what not to feed them. We tell them they must take them to a hospital even if their religion says not too. We tell them they cannot let their kid drink alcohol.

Laws covering children are not set only by parents. Laws are set by society.

Children are not adults. They do not get the same rights as adults and they do not have the same responsibilities.

Please explain how these are different:
Limit a teenagers ability to work past a certain number of hours in a week.
Limit a teenagers ability to be out past a certain hour.

Shouldn't a parent say how many hours of work their child can handle? But big bad govt came in and said Nope, kids are kids, not adults. Both are legitimate concerns of society.

I support curfews for teenagers. This makes perfect sense to me.

When a teenager becomes an adult, they can be out til whatever hour they choose. And they can vote. But no beer for you, sonnyboy.

by greent on Jul 15, 2011 5:12 pm • linkreport

Working past a certain number of hours is not the same as limiting when you can be out. Child labor laws were enacted so I'm not working 15 hours a day until 3 a.m. and not getting a proper education/getting enough rest. Curfew laws were enacted so teens wouldn't get involved in crime. The biggest problem is that it is a waste to have to take a teen to the police station, simply because you are using one police car and one police officer, which could be put to much better use elsewhere. Both of these, in my opinion, are examples of preventive measures, one preventing deterioration in health, the other preventing crime, although the latter seems to require more government resources. It would be easier to show us graphic warnings about why to avoid gangs, like they do for cigarettes.

by vanmo96 on Jul 15, 2011 6:27 pm • linkreport

@greent
By thee way, how old are you?

by vanmo96 on Jul 15, 2011 6:29 pm • linkreport

Kids are not adults. If their parents would take responsibility and hold their kids accountable we would not need curfews.

Everyone complians there isn't enough to do for young people. When did providing entertainment become the sole responsibility of our government?

by Sean Wieland on Jul 16, 2011 12:08 pm • linkreport

Channel 5 in New York ran this for a while during the 1970's-80's:

"It's 10PM. Do you know where your children are?"

What positive purpose do kids have for being out late a night? Especially when school is is session?

by ceefer66 on Jul 16, 2011 4:08 pm • linkreport

Positive things to do at night:
Go to a concert, go to see a midnight movie, go for a nice walk WHEN IT IS COMFORTABLE OUTSIDE, look at the stars we can see through the area's light pollution. More ideas?

by vanmo96 on Jul 16, 2011 11:45 pm • linkreport

@Sean Wieland

I don't think it's solely the government's responsibility to provide entertainment for young people. On the other hand, if we've agreed it's necessary to expend resources on young people, I'd rather it be so kids can spend time at a recreation center rather than at a police station.

by dan reed! on Jul 17, 2011 2:58 pm • linkreport

... whew! you hit a hot button issue with this one...

Teens need PARENTS, who will naturally be providing constructive direction for their children and waiting up for them when they get home any night of the week. Those who don't have caring attentive parents, need curfew's and gov't officials and MPD -- albeit a terrible excuses for parents -- to try and fill in.

This means gov't imposed curfews and the soft penalty of being detained if caught breaking curfew, to keep young people in line and to try to help them realize that there are adults attempting to look out for their best interests. It's never a great solution, but blame the breeders, poor excuses for real men and women (often boys and girls) who stupidly have unprotected sex w/o any rational consideration for the consequences of getting pregnant and the time/expense/care invovled in bringing children into this world w/o a plan for raising them love and firm guidance. #Skeet-skeet is not the end, it's the beginning...

All these so called *father's* (and mother's) who happen to be in jail, should have their sentences extended *each time* one of their offspring is apprehended by police.

by CCCA Prez on Jul 17, 2011 7:03 pm • linkreport

@vanmo96 Positive things to do at night:
Go to a concert, go to see a midnight movie, go for a nice walk WHEN IT IS COMFORTABLE OUTSIDE, look at the stars we can see through the area's light pollution. More ideas?
-----------------------

Sure do:

Stay at home and spend time doing things with their families (including "looking at the stars through the light pollution") and studying so they don't leave high school as functional illiterates.

You think the Asian kids are whining about not being able to run the streets?

by ceefer66 on Jul 27, 2011 2:39 pm • linkreport

Teen cufews are pointless. If a kid wants go out after curfew... He's going to go out after curfew. End of story.

by Kaylee on Nov 15, 2012 10:16 am • linkreport

When Dan Reed the author of this article was talking about the different towns that teens go into he said that alot of the teens get into trouble or harm others. Why did he only say they harm others? The teens could be victims of a crime too, just like anybody else. That sounded kind of discriminatory against teens.

by lauren on Jul 13, 2014 6:36 pm • linkreport

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