Curfews—unfair, ineffective, and unconstitutional

When the Declaration of Independence was written over 200 years ago we called ourselves free. But African-Americans stood helpless in the shackles of slavery. When Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation, again we called ourselves free. But women were barred from the voting booths and belittled in the shadows of men. African-Americans and women now stand equal on the steps of liberty, but is the struggle for justice over? The answer is no.

A group that has so long been ignored must now take the foreground in the seemingly endless struggle for equality; that group is children. But as Rosa Parks and her single act of defiance so deftly proves, it is simple acts that will win this war. The first battle will attack curfew restrictions. Laws that are in place in most cities. Laws that jail children in their own homes. And violate their most basic rights.

A curfew on the minors of America is ineffective and unconstitutional. Curfew laws are ineffective in both preventing crime and utilizing police resources. Officer Tom Dwyer a sergeant in the Sacramento police department believes otherwise, “It is an effective crime prevention tool.” But if in fact curfews are effective crime fighting tools why then are they not in place on all age groups. The only logical conclusion one could draw from this type of blatant prejudice is that it is only minors who commit crimes.

Obviously minors are not the only age group committing crimes. Officer Dwyer’s opinion is not shared by all those employed in Law enforcement, especially not by Bernard C. Parks who is the police chief of the entire Los Angeles area, in a statement to the LA board of safety Parks said, “Curfews have not greatly impacted the number of violent crimes or the people who become victims of crimes.” The reality is that curfew laws are not based on any justifiable law enforcement technique but instead they unfairly single out a particular age group because of a perennial stereotype against children and adolescence in general.

One does not have to sit on the Supreme Court to understand that literally holding a person in their own home against their will is a violation of all the ideals that make our country great.

Not only are curfew laws ineffective but they are also unconstitutional. In our society heavy consideration is placed on the rights of the individual. The question is do these same rights apply to the youth of our society. In order to determine this, one must look to the backbone of our government, the constitution.

The 14th amendment reads, “All persons born or naturalized in the u.s. and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law, which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens in the United States. Nor shall any state deprive a person of life liberty or the pursuit of happiness. Nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws.”

The 14th Amendment clearly defines anyone born in the United States a citizen. Meaning that being under the age of 18 does not bar individuals rights as written in the constitution. One does not have to sit on the Supreme Court to understand that literally holding a person in their own home against their will is a violation of all the ideals that make our country great.

Curfew laws further violate the 14th Amendment by not granting equal protection of all laws. The 14th amendment was originally written in 1866 so that states could not pass laws that affect some citizens and not others. Such as laws forbidding blacks to enter public schools or dine in certain restaurants.

Curfew laws are reminiscent of these dark days in our country, days that were filled with hate and injustice. Prohibiting the rights of minors is taking a giant step backwards in equality and liberty and at the same time doing little to nothing in the fight against crime.

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27 comments on “Curfews—unfair, ineffective, and unconstitutional

  1. So should fourteen year olds be allowed to go to war if they want

    Or ten year olds to marry

    Or a three year old sign a contract?

  2. No one should be forced to go to war, but those who want to fight should be allowed.

    Thirteen seems to be a good age for emancipation, so ten year olds would be too young to marry and three-year-olds couldn’t sign a contract.

    1. Are you saying that someone as young as seven years old (for example) wanted to fight in the war, would you allow them? They don't know any better! Many seven year old boys are interested in guns and some would want to go to war and fight. They don't know how dangerous it is though. They just like all the violence in cartoons, and they want to be as cool as the main character in their favorite TV show and shoot the 'bad guys'. They don't know that real violence is horrible–they don't know how badly wounded they could get. So, of course people who are older and matured should be the only ones that are allowed to fight in wars!!

      1. What makes you 18 year olds don't have the same mindset? Why else would you sign up? (Yes serve your country and blah blah blah)
        But when it comes down to it we are raised to “fight the bad guy” and like guns and explosions (action movies/ video games)

        What if putting in hard work and being a contributing member of society while raising good kids was glorified instead. . .

      2. In many cases 7 year olds do fight in wars (other countrys where they are kidnapped and forced to)

      3. How is fighting in a war as a seven year old have any relation to an unconstitutional curfew law?

    2. Thirteen year olds definetly should not be emancipated!! I'm fourteen and I made some pretty bad descisions as a thirteen year old. Do you know how crazy thirteen year olds can get? If you allowed thirteen year olds to be freed from their parents and do anything they want, that's just about asking for havoc for the US! Thirteen year olds can get crazy mood swings, and many certainly aren't responsible. Many thirteen year olds I know don't even turn in their homework on time! So, no that idea is not good at all in my opinion.

      1. It is a matter of property rights.
        I own myself.
        I should be able to choose what I want to do with myself.
        Enforcers of curfews involuntarily choose for me, infringing on my property rights.

        1. In addition to that, violating the curfew does not harm anyone, and any dangerous activities that might occur after curfew are already illegal.

  3. I remember the first time I heard of the term “curfew.” It was in a book about a Jewish girl who lived in Germany in 1941.

    1. The curfews are UNCONSTITUTIONAL. As stated by the 14th Amendment “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens in the united states” Weather teenagers are adults or not they are still citizens of the U.S. 

  4. First amendment rights, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Press, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Petition….. States, Cities, Towns can be sewed for violations of our rights. Freedom of Assembly basically means a curfew is a violation of our rights, therefore which ever state, city, or town has a curfew law enacted is liable to be sewed. Of course a child saying this pulls no weight for the common view of children being immature, under educated, and whimsical. But if an adult decided to speak out for the children and protect their rights (for even children have all the rights adults do, besides voting, war, and holding office) then perhaps people would see how our rights are being violated everyday. And proof of how children have the same rights as adults do as specified in the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments of the Constitution of the United States of America) The Supreme Court ruled that even upon entering a school building during active school hours, children retain all rights specified in the Bill of Rights, unless said rights can be proven to be directly obstructing the education of other students around.

  5. I constantly violate the curfew statue. Cops rarely bother me anymore because I have asserted my rights on every occasion they have stopped me. I just tell them, “i'm not in the mood to talk right now..I did not commit a crime, so I will not show my identification…am I being detained or may I leave now?”

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