Curfews: What's the Point?
The 14th amendment of the United States Constitution states that any state shall not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws" (Legal).
However, many cities and states in the US currently enforce curfew laws that deny young teens under the age of 18 their right to be in public places or to drive after certain hours. These laws are punishing minors for exercising their constitutional rights in the same way that adults do without such punishment; they are mostly causing no harm, and do not deserve to be discriminated against by the government in the way they are.
Many believe that teens are responsible for a large percentage of crimes, particularly violent ones, and that having a curfew in effect helps lower crime rates. In one study, the average adult surmised that teens amount for 43% of all violent crimes, when in reality the number is only a mere 13%, and this number is made up by only a half percent of minors (Cobey). If this is the reason for creating curfews, it is clearly a discrimination against all minors, as reproving 99.5% of young citizens due to an inconsequential number of minors committing crime is certainly unjust.
As a matter of fact, in some cases, applying curfew laws have actually increased juvenile crime rates. Teens begin to associate police officers with the curfew, and police officers begin to see any minor that is in violation of curfew as a criminal.
This tension may lead to crimes being committed by those who may not normally break laws (Cobey).
I would suggest that if the government really wants to reduce crime rates, perhaps they should be targeting the percentage of the population that causes the other 87% of violent crimes. But let us take this hypothetical situation into consideration: What if the government decided that in order to reduce crime rates, no US citizen will be allowed to be in public after 11:00 p.m.? Most people would probably say that the government would never get away with such a ridiculous scheme. But in the case of curfew laws for minors, that is exactly what they are doing – denying United States citizens the right to live their lives freely, regardless of age.
Another major argument that supports the enforcement of curfew laws is that it reduces the amount of traffic accidents, as minors are inexperienced drivers. But to that extent I ask: What does the time of day matter? If young drivers are inexperienced, they will most likely cause accidents no matter what time of day they are on the road. However, these...