University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Driving Curfews Violating Teens Rights
A seventeen year old friend of mine headed home from work at 11:00 at night on a Thursday in the month of July. Wanting to raise enough money to go on a band trip to Florida, she needed to work long hours, needing money to pay for her car insurance, she needed to work long hours and wanting to get in as many hours possible in one day, she needed to work long hours. Making money meant so much to her that she would go into work at the drop of a hat. Feeling tired and wanting to get home, she gets in her car, fastens her seat belt and starts her ten minute drive home.
It was a dark night with clear sky’s and stars could be seen everywhere. The rode lit by the moon shining bright, when all of a sudden the moon light was not the only light shining in her window. Flashing lights from a police car pulling her over, blinded her as she looked in her rear view mirror. Rolling down her window, a police officer approached her and said in a stern voice, “Drivers license and proof of insurance. ” She had a please-don’t-give-me-a-ticket look on her face as tears filled her eyes and asked, “What did I do wrong? After looking at the age on her license he responded, “ You are driving past curfew so a ticket needs to be issued. ”
Trying to tell him about coming home from a hard day at work did not seem to matter, he issued her the ticket anyways. Her fear comparable to fear felt by drivers being pulled on the television show, Cops. After the coast was clear, feeling down in the dumps, she headed home. There is a nighttime driving restriction for drivers ages 16 and 17 years old where they need to be off the road by 10:00 p. m. Sunday through Thursday and by 11:00 p. m. Friday and Saturday.
Eventhough this may seem true, I feel curfews should be determined by parents, not by public laws. A parent should know better then the government if their child is responsible enough to drive past curfew and they should not have to be concerned about their child getting caught driving home late. Curfews have been a huge issue for teens who have to stay out late for school related activities or events. For instance, kids feel like they are penalized when they come home from a school activity past curfew even when they do not have any other choice.
Feeling forced to drive later then usual, hoping they do not get pulled over, they head for home after their activity has ended. If a student does get pulled over for driving home after curfew, it is a long shot, but they will have to pray the officer believes their story about coming home from a school sport or activity and let them go free. Curfews should be given to students by their parents, not by the law. If a child acts irresponsible then their parent should have the right to keep them home from the school activity and keep them off the street at night.
On the other hand, if a responsible child is out one hour past curfew, not doing anything wrong, it does not mean it should result in getting a ticket. Their parent gave them permission to join the activity in the first place so dropping out of the school related event is not an option. A student should never think of quitting a sport because of a curfew law. It is true, that curfew laws have come about to decrease the amount of crimes, however, this has not been proven true.
For example, a survey in the July 1997 York Daily Record found that nearly three quarters of the two hundred largest cities in the United States have implemented curfew laws to lower juvenile crime rates. Statistics showed no support for their claim. Furthermore, teens will participate in illegal activities even if they have a curfew. They will either do it earlier or stay out past curfew and risk getting caught. Besides, most crimes are committed by adults and are more serious and dangerous since they have more resources than children do.
The government should trust that parents can make the right decision on what time their child should be home. They need to focus their attention on more important issues like preventing crime from happening in the first place, instead of spending their time on trying to get kids home earlier. Parents of teenagers feel that there is a benefit to having curfews especially for the safety of their children. They expect their child home by curfew. If their child does not arrive home on time, they will know something is wrong and they can seek help faster if their child should need it.
Parents feel that having a curfew is a really good excuse to leave an uncomfortable situation, if their child feels they need an excuse to get out of something wrong. Having a curfew also encourages responsibility. It teaches a teen to have respect for rules and laws they may not like or understand. At the same time, parents should remember that they know their teenager best, and they need to set rules according to their own teen. If a responsible teenager has a good record, they should be given more freedom. A mature teen should have the same rights as parents do.
Parents do not have to follow a curfew law because they are older and assumed more responsible. Similarly, a mature and responsible teen should have the same rights. In a nutshell, it makes more sense to have curfews determined by parents not by public laws. If a responsible child has earned their parents trust, they should have more freedom. Without this freedom, issues will occur when they need to stay out late for school related activities, events or for a job. Furthermore, curfew laws have shown to do very little to prevent crimes throughout the city.
The number of crimes has remained the same since curfew laws went into effect. Without a curfew, teens would get the chance to feel grown up and take responsibility for their own actions. They could drive home safely from school activities or a job with out risking getting a ticket. Since curfews are not helping to decrease the amount of crimes, there is no point of having one. Officers need to concentrate on other ways to prevent crimes in the city without giving teens a set time to be home every night. At any rate, parents want to keep their kids safe so their curfew should always be determined by them not by the law.