Curfew

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I find it ironic
the abuse our young take in this society of ours that supposedly
worships the concept of youth and spends millions trying to retain
it. Several years ago I went through the whole procedure of trying
to keep my children out of the hands of the military recruiters
in our school because I was reading about the refinancing and re-manning
of the Selective Service Department and I was worried about the
possibility of a draft. I thought at the time how cowardly the leaders
of a country have to be to implement a draft. Forcing young men
to fight, knowing full well that their reason for war wasn't good
enough to convince fathers and sons to want to fight on their own.
That the only way they could wage war was to threaten their own
citizens with their lives if they refused to become their slaves
and kill who they say. I thought, what a way to treat those that
are so much younger and less wise than us, those we are to guide
and protect. What a way to treat the most valuable thing we possess
in our lives and in our country.

Recently, the
joys of parenthood have introduced me to another issue that has
revealed this cowardly attitude we project on our young. Curfew.
Having now experienced the whole procedure I would like to share
what I think is a good idea for the whole country.

I propose taking
the curfew law you have in your fair little city and throwing it
in the trash bin reserved for senseless, inefficient, costly, misguided,
and unconstitutional laws.

Think about
it. This law is directed at our youth for the purpose of crime prevention
and yet, 87% of crime is committed by adults. Wouldn't it make more
sense to apply the law to that segment of society that is committing
those crimes? Of course it would, but we adults wouldn't put up
with that kind of harassment for a second and yet we subject our
youth to this unreasonable treatment because we have been sold a
bill of goods that it is somehow necessary.

Of the 13%
of crime committed by juveniles, the vast majority of that crime
is committed in the afternoon, not at night, and those juveniles
committing those nighttime crimes are not going to let a curfew
law stop them. Can you imagine two juveniles planning a robbery
and then realizing they can't go through with it because of that
darn curfew law?

Any argument
in favor of the curfew law relies on the presumption that the state,
and not the parent, has the responsibility to police our children's
actions. The fact of the matter is children belong to their parents
and it's the responsibility of the parent to raise the child, not
the state. Obviously not all parents do their job, but just in our
small community I think it is safe to say that 95% of the parents
are doing their job and don't need a police force guiding them in
their parenting skills. So, we have curfew laws that target maybe
5% of families and 5% of all crime committed and yet it is enforced
on 100% of our youth.

There are some
very interesting results of a curfew law that need to be considered.
First, it creates an us and them scenario between law enforcement
and the youth over something that is not a crime. This in turn breeds
resentment towards law enforcement. Kids aren't stupid and realize
they're
being harassed for doing harm to no one.

Second, after
being caught, put in a police car, detained in a lockup facility,
taken before a judge, penalized and identified as a juvenile delinquent,
they then have the whole process and stigma to deal with and the
results are almost always negative. There are studies that show
juvenile crime actually increased after curfew laws were put in
effect, which isn't hard to believe considering the fact that prison
and exposure to other criminals only hardens criminals, not rehabilitates
them. Exposing our children to this criminal scenario when no crime
has been committed is unnecessary and foolish. The idea that you
can fight juvenile crime by making juvenile criminals is ludicrous.

Third, having
law enforcement become a part of family discipline actually undermines
a parent's authority, not helps.

We have more
than enough existing laws to cover any crime a juvenile might commit.
Thinking that we are preventing crime by having a curfew is a proven
fallacy and if law enforcement thinks they need it to do their job,
I have a novel idea for them. If a juvenile does commit a real crime,
arrest and charge him with the specific law he broke using the same
process they have for the adults that commit most of the crime!

Curfew law
was designed to be used temporarily to help restore order only in
times of war, martial law or extreme social unrest, not permanently
in peaceful and law-abiding America.

Having no curfew
law will decrease the workload for all those involved with its enforcement.
This misused law costs communities time and money, creates disrespect
for law enforcement, does not stop crime and has been found to be
unconstitutional fifty per cent of the time when challenged in court.
More than enough reasons to request your city council have the enforcement
of your curfew law discontinued.

The need to
throw out a curfew law may seem minor in light of the loss of so
many freedoms recently signed into law, but it's an act still available
locally to remind those in law enforcement that our laws are for
protection not harassment.

It's an act
that will require explanations from your community to justify its
continued use, explanations that will expose a police state mentality
that so many have already embraced unknowingly.

Law enforcement
already has too many tools at their disposal. Giving them the right
to harass our young citizens is one tool we need to take back, if
for no other reason than to let the youth know we're on their side
for once.

October
12, 2007

Ben
Knobel [send him mail] lives
with his wife Lynne in Montana. They strive to teach their six children
to think and act on their own.

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