The power of a curfew

In Prince George’s County, there is a curfew for people under age 17 to be off the street before midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and by 10 p.m Sundays through Thursdays. This is implemented for safety, and to reduce crime, which has risen among teens.

This curfew is a good thing. People who don’t have curfews, they might not have boundaries. They feel like they can do what they want, so they don’t have to report to anybody. 

When I was growing up, my mom had her own curfew: Everybody had to be in the house by 11 p.m. I lived with it and liked it. I’ve been used to doing that most of my life. Sometimes even now that I am an old lady, around 10:30 p.m., I start to get sleepy. At 11 p.m., it’s time for me to go to bed. My sister says the same thing happens for her. I say it’s like a built-in clock. 

A curfew is also good because it gives families more time to spend together. When my daughter was young, her curfew was earlier than mine. I told her she had to be in the house at 10 o’clock. She’s my only child, there’s no replacement, and so I was protective of her. She objected, of course, saying, “Why I gotta be in at 10 o’clock? All the rest of the people are sitting across the street. Why don’t I get to do that?” Because Mommy’s tired and Mommy don’t feel like standing in the window, spying on you. 

Me and her had a good rapport. We could talk. A lot of times she came in the house early, before 10 o’clock, even on holidays when I would let her stay up later, and we would sit up half the night talking. She would tell me about her friends. She’s a real good talker. Many a night we sat up all night long, talking and laughing about her escapades. I miss that too.

When you’re inside and with a family, you relate to one another whether you want to or not. Sometimes it works out for the good. You can actually see if someone’s having problems. If you’re there and you see your children and you watch them, and especially if they don’t know you’re watching them, you can see their personalities. 

For example, my daughter has five children. If they’re all in the house, and everybody’s interacting, you can see that one of her boys has attention deficit disorder and doesn’t do a lot of socializing. You park him in front of the TV, he’d be there all day long. When he goes outside in the backyard to play, he’d be by himself. I said, “Why is he like that?” My daughter picked up on the fact that something was happening with him.

Keeping kids off the street and at home also gives the teens time to think about what they want or need to do for themselves. Some young people will not admit that they need time to reflect on themselves or that home life makes you closer and happier. You have to have time to grow physically and spiritually.

The crime rate has not gone up since this curfew has lately been enforced. However, some people might say that it does not mean that its effect is a good influence. I think it is a first step to help “our” young people be safe and feel cared about. The young people think they don’t need a curfew. Some might not, but this could help. A try beats a failure.

Jacqueline Turner is an artist and vendor with Street Sense Media. 

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