Youth Curfews Are Not Good Policy

Audio, Policing, Frontier Centre

Over the decades, many communities in Canada have experimented with different versions of a curfew for children and adolescents.

Most often, anyone under the age of 16 or 18 must be off the street by a specific time, such as 10pm.

The aim is to reduce vandalism and other crimes that are often committed by teenagers, but most evidence suggests that they have not been effective in preventing crime.

Sometimes crime does drop during curfew hours, but at the same time, crime will perhaps increase outside the boundaries of the curfew, or during non-curfew hours.

Another problem is that youth who already have a criminal history are unlikely to obey the curfew.

Meanwhile, teenagers who are not causing trouble are penalized even though they’ve done nothing wrong.

A curfew also does nothing about the concern that young people spend too much time inside watching television or surfing the internet.

Why prohibit law-abiding youth from going outside at night, maybe to watch the stars?

Youth curfews can also perpetuate an unfair stereotype that all youth are delinquent and can’t be trusted.

Municipalities would do better to promote a positive relationship between youth and the police, rather than poisoning the relationship through disrespect.

Communities should just say “no” to a youth curfew.

I’m Roger Currie. Join us again next week for more thoughts on the Frontier.

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