More than 200 cities in the United States enforce juvenile curfew laws, but the effectiveness of such laws remains debatable. Do juvenile curfew laws really keep kids out of trouble? Or do they unnecessarily restrict kids from having fun?
We ask these questions because some people think curfews are unfair in that they chastise everyone under 18 over the fault of a few young delinquents. On the other hand, some parents and authorities deem teenagers still don’t know any better, and need utmost guidance and discipline.
Here we list down the pros and cons of teenage curfew to shed a little light and to inspire educational discussion over the matter.
List of Pros of Teenage Curfew
1. Peace of Mind for Parents
Having curfew means that those under 18 get as much adult supervision as possible. This lessens the chances of them getting involved in juvenile violence and crime. Parents often feel assured and relieved having their kids at home and not on the streets at a certain time.
Driving and hanging out during late night hours puts teenagers in a risky situation. Driving or traveling at night poses greater dangers than traveling at daytime. In addition, curfew keeps them away from temptations such as drug use, violent acts, sexual risks, heavy partying, and alcohol intake.
3. Parental Control
Restricting kids from staying out late helps set boundaries in their lives while they remain under their parents’ care. There’s a reason why kids under 18 are called minors and dependents – because they basically need fully grown, mature people overseeing them. With a curfew, parents can trust their children to be home at a specific time, making it easier to manage the household.
4. Structured Teenage Life
The young people have so much energy, curiosity and passion within them they tend to lose control and have difficulty making smart decisions. A curfew puts limit and structure to their otherwise random ways. It allows teens to form commendable habits such as taking responsibility, showing respect and prioritizing safety.
5. Prevents Juvenile Delinquency
Sneaking out of the house very late at night generally puts teenagers in a position because they no longer have the protection and security outside the family environment. Teenagers become more vulnerable to participating or falling victim to juvenile crimes and other criminal acts done during the night.
List of Cons of Teenage Curfew
1. Autocratic Parenting
When parents impose curfew mainly because it is the law, the family loses sight over the importance of getting kids involved in the way the household is run. Despite being minors, teenagers have their own beliefs, opinions and goals that parents overlook or undermine when curfew law is blindly enforced.
2. False Sense of Security
It becomes an issue when parents and authorities put all of their hopes on curfew to curb or prevent juvenile delinquency. Curfew is not a cure-all against teenage crime and violence, and is definitely the ultimate tool parents can use to discipline children. It is just one of the tools or one of the ways to help raise good citizens.
In addition, according to the statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice, juvenile crimes are higher after school on weekdays and around 7pm to 9pm on weekends. This means curfew may actually provide little benefit to deter juvenile delinquency.
3. Hinders Maturity
When the family or community strictly imposes curfew law, kids are expected to observe it without question to avoid punishment. This potentially restricts juveniles from asserting themselves, negotiate with parents, and simply learn how to deal with the real world. Curfew-raised kids may get culture shock and become less adaptable when released from the curfew law.
Some critics argue that curfew is unconstitutional in that it gives the government right to interfere with the family’s privacy and chosen methodologies for parenting. For the most part, curfew restricts everyone under 18 whether or not they are rebellious or delinquent. This means that even the good kids are “punished” for offenses they didn’t commit.
Some teenagers can’t hold down graveyard jobs mainly because of the curfew limitations. This discriminates young individuals who need to do extra work to support their family and themselves. In the same way, authorities outright categorize those who do stay out beyond the curfew limit as delinquents or violators.
Setting Realistic Expectations
Teenagers will always behave like teenagers. After all, they are merely kids. However, not all kids are the same, and a one-size-fits-all parenting tool such as a curfew may not really work on every teenager out there.
In areas where there is no curfew law, parents need to sit down with their teenagers to help assess their supervision needs. If a curfew is required, parents need to make clear their expectations from their kids and vice versa.
Of course, families have no other option than to observe teenage curfew when it is imposed in their community. But whether there is curfew law or not, both parents and kids need to help each other and make the necessary adjustments. The family needs to create and agree on a parenting plan that both parents and teenagers can adhere.
When kids chronically fail to follow agreed house rules, let alone the curfew limit, parents need to check whether they did their part of the bargain – administering consequences. If parents find themselves easily giving in to the whims of their teenagers, then the kids are not entirely at fault.
When kids faithfully observe house rules and curfew limits, parents need to recognize this admirable behavior and reward their children by giving them more freedom. By increasing independence, kids slowly learn to be responsible, accountable and mature, and take these commendable traits with them into adulthood.
We have listed the pros and cons of teenage curfew, and made mention the importance of setting realistic expectations that both parents and teenagers can adhere for a more effective parenting. Indeed, curfew is a good parenting tool, but definitely not the only tool, for imposing boundaries and discipline among teenage kids.
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.