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Fair curfews give teens much-needed boundaries

Fair curfews give teens much-needed boundaries

Dear Editor,

I believe that curfews can be good for teenagers, who are at an awkward stage of development between childhood and maturity, and often struggle to make good choices in their social lives.

Parents also need to play a major role in teenager curfews. Parental responsibility includes a duty to supervise teens’ social activities and help them learn to abide by society’s laws and restrictions. This might include a legal curfew issued by the community, or a parental curfew that pertains only to family members.

In the United States, the state of California has a curfew law for teenagers. The law restricts the rights of under 18s to be outdoors or in public places during certain hours. Courts in California have generally upheld such laws as long as the local ordinance seeks to discourage “loitering” or “remaining” in certain places after certain hours.

Under state law, parents can be charged for the administration and transportation costs of returning a minor to his or her home on a second curfew violation. Also, a minor who is a frequent or habitual curfew violator may be declared a ward of the court and treated as a status offender. Most curfew ordinances prohibit minors from being out past 10pm on weekdays and midnight on weekends.

Exceptions to such laws do exist, however, allowing minors to legally stay out late if they are:

  • Participating in a religious, educational or political activity.
  • Running an errand for a parent or guardian.
  • Accompanied by a parent, guardian or adult.
  • Working or going to or from their place of employment.
  • Responding to an emergency.
  • Returning home from a school, cultural or recreational activity.

State law also gives local police some latitude in their enforcement of curfew ordinances if the officer believes a youth has a “legitimate reason based on extenuating circumstances” for the violation.

Curfews are therefore not a page out of the Taliban’s book, nor a matter of civil rights.

Jeffrey Serey Ho
Lancaster, California

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