Argument in support of imposition of curfew on teenagers classifies the pros of the law into two; that it prevents crimes committed by juveniles and offers the youth protection from victimization. According to the supporters, juvenile curfew is a means of protecting non-delinquent teens from crime. In addition to this, the delinquent youth are denied opportunity to indulge in criminal activities. The Federal Bureau of Investigation in the year 1994, in their uniform crime, said that curfew reduces crime incidence. This is because the juvenile perpetrator uses other youths as victims to their crimes, thus with a curfew in place, this will decrease the number of youth victims (Kinnear, 2009).
Curfew restores and maintains order in neighborhoods frequented by low crimes. Law enforcement officials are equipped with tools to help them keep teens off the streets. The parents are mandated with legitimate legal base for controlling their children’s activities at night.
However, there are those in firm opposition of curfew. These critics’ claims that enforcing curfew is an unnecessary funnel for funneling many non-delinquent children to a system of criminal justices that is already overpopulated with alleged offenders. Furthermore, critics claim there is lack of enough evidence to support that curfew is effective in enforcing the law.
From a research carried out by Ruefle and Reynolds on effective curfew for people aged eighteen years and below, the findings showed no empirical evidence supporting that curfew have influence on juvenile crimes. The civil right groups further claims, that imposing curfew infringes on the constitutional rights of youths. Moreover, there are people who oppose the law on the grounds that the law enforcement officials are given excessive powers and use it to detain children without reasonable cause. This also violates the fourth amendment that protects one from unreasonable search and seizure. On several occasions, curfew laws have been struck down by courts on the ground that they are overreaching and vague.
Supporters of people under the age of eighteen years having restricted driving privileges argue that most young people have increasingly proven that they lack sense of responsibility and thus are immature. According to these supporters, society should be spared the task of cleaning up after young people who have crashed. The government should prevent this by raising the age one can get a license. In addition, in support of the argument, supports claim that extreme restrictions should be put in place to raise the bar during the licensing process. This would ensure that from an early age, children are taught about road safety (Gerdes, 2008).
Driving is a privilege that an individual who cannot link between cause and effect should not be given. Most youth below the age of eighteen are not mature enough to take responsibility for their actions, and should not be allowed to drive under any circumstance.
It is true that accidents area caused by both the elderly and the youth, however, by restricting the driving age; it is paramount to weigh the pros and cons that this would bring to society. Restricting teenagers from enjoying the driving privileges can only be good if it reduces the number of teenage deaths on highways.
Critics of this argument claim that getting a driving license at the age of eighteen is way too late and that the current world requires dynamic and responsible people. According to them, age does not make one responsible, rather trust and responsibilities bestowed on the individual. In addition according to critics restricting the teenagers driving privileges is burdening the parent with unnecessary duties of shipping their teenagers to different places every now and then.
Evidence in support of the argument presented
In a systematic review carried out by Kenneth Adams, his aim was finding out how effective curfews were in crime reduction. The researcher identified ten quasi –experimental studies which fit criteria for evaluating the existing relationship between victimization, public safety, and curfew laws imposed on youth. The studies according to Kenneth, composed results of measuring the differences before the adoption of the curfew, and the results for measuring the difference after the curfew was imposed. His findings were mixed overall. Accordingly, the impact of the curfew in reducing crimes was statistically insignificant (Siegel & Welsh, 2009). He concluded his research by stating that it was not clear whether curfews really did increase public safety.
In another study carried out by William Ruefle and Kenneth Mike Reynolds on the impact that juvenile curfew laws have the evidence gathered indicated that curfew played a significant role in the reduction of crimes committed by juveniles. However, the curfews were not effective in the reduction of criminal behavior among the youths who were above that age; meaning that curfew worked better with youth below the age of eighteen.
Evidence in support of restriction of driving privileges for youth below the age of eighteen years can be garnered from newspaper. Here one can find enough truth supporting that teens are not responsible enough to be allowed to drive without adult supervision. According to an article published by CQ press, more than six thousands teens die annually due to motor vehicle accidents. This is due to young people not using safety belts. In most cases, most youth like driving when drunk. According to this article, fatality caused by teens can be reduced if this age group was restricted from driving.
Restricting a young person and placing him or her under so much scrutiny will definitely lead to rebellion. Young people should be taught how to be self-disciplined and trusted with the responsibility that the adults are giving them. Then they will act as responsible young adults and be indoors without having to impose a curfew. Giving the young people freedom to be responsible for their own safety will help them in becoming mature and responsible adults.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), curfew measures are a violation of both parent and youth constitutional rights. In addition to this, limiting the youth movement at a certain hour, is a violation of their equal protection clause that is found on the 14th amendment.
A counter argument for restricted driving privileges is arbitrary to restrict minors on the grounds that another minor was irresponsible for his or her action. Thus, they could never be termed as equal; showing that one irresponsible teenager can determine the fate of a million others. Teenagers should be allowed to drive due to the having to attend school, extracurricular activities, and or part time jobs. Moreover, carelessness is not caused by age, any one can be careless, thus blaming almost all the accidents occurring on the highways on youth is not fair. The government on its part, has put into place measures that ensure that the youth is competent enough to drive before being issued with a driver’s license, restricting youth on the basis of age is unrealistic.
Evidence in support of the counter argument
In most areas where curfews on the juvenile have been imposed, crime activities have been recorded to occur just hours before the curfew hour. This tells us that regardless of the age, those who commit violence are simply criminal offenders. Committing crime or perpetrating violence is a free choice, in other words it is a product of a moral and rational choice, so it does not matter whether the curfew is there or not. The juvenile criminal justice system is of the view that the criminal element in a juvenile is out of free choice and ought to be punished. The public health’s also have a realistic conception and believe that youth are pushed to committing crimes by external forces. According to the public health, the criminal element in youth can be removed by investing resources on the problem. Committing of crimes and violence is not inevitable as many people would like to believe, however, imposing a curfew is definitely not an option (Karen, 2007).
In attempt to control the youth, the police department believes that imposing a curfew is the best option for preventing criminal activities done by the youth. As results show, more than 60,000 youth are arrested annually; thus leading to an overpopulation in both the juveniles in incarceration and in juvenile court. This means that the government has to spend more of the taxpayer’s money to fund these institutions. Unfortunately, research carried out in the past has proven that there is very little relation between curfew and crime reduction. Actually what the researchers have found out is that crime, violence, and victimization still occur but at different time periods. In addition, civil libertarians claim that curfew has not only failed terribly to prevent crime but also infringed on the rights of the youth. The activist further claimed that the police have been mandated so much unnecessary power to exploit and punish youths who are only guilty due to their age (Larry, 2007).
Due to the increase in road accidents, many parents have lobbied, that a law be passed preventing any teenager below the age of eighteen years from driving. According to this parent, teenagers driving in the company of other teenagers are responsible for most of the accidents occurring on the United States highways. However, from the numerous research carried out, none of the research has ever proven this to be true. Denying the youth his or her right to drive on the basis of their age is both unrealistic and unfair to the youth. If this law should be passed, then anybody aged seventy years and above should also be banned from driving too due to poor eye sight. Evidence gathered from different research shows that anyone who has spent more than 40 hours of drivers training is a competent driver and should not be denied an opportunity to drive just because of their age.
Legal curfew on teenagers may not be the solution to reducing crimes, violence, joining gangs, and victimization. However, it is an excellent tool for keeping teenagers from the immorality that occurs at night. In addition, curfew creates a family time that would otherwise not be there if the youth spent all their time hanging out with friends. Therefore, curfew laws on youth are important and should be implemented in all states.
However, restricting youth aged 18 years and below from driving is going too far. Adults should show the youth respect and trust by allowing them to drive. Accidents are inevitable whether caused by a youth or an adult. One youth should not be the cause for denying a thousand others from driving. The youths that drive under the influence of alcohol or without adhering to the safety rules of the road should be used as an example to others and punished thoroughly.