Denver Teens Get Curfew

April 3 2005, 12:57 PM

Is this really necessary? Starting April 1, teenagers under the age of 18 will have to be home by 11:00 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends. Penalties for non-compliance may include ticketing of teens and parents. Curfews may seem like a quick-fix to crime problems, but where is the evidence that they are effective? Curfew decisions should be arrived at after discussions between parents and their children. Every child is different and we don't need more "one size fits all" rules. Curfews also may violate constitutional protections against age discrimination, freedom of association and freedom of speech, to name a few. Here are some arguments against teen curfews.

The ACLU, an advocate in the rights of teenagers, has been fighting the curfew in many large cities. The organization has challenged the laws stating that they are "inherently incompatible with the Bill of Rights" and equivalent to "martial law, not democracy." They further argue that amendments other than the first are also being violated. For example, the fourth amendment offers protection against unlawful search and seizures; the fifth offers the right to due process and the right to liberty; the ninth protects rights not otherwise enumerated in state and federal constitutions; and, lastly, the fourteenth amendment offers substantive due process rights including the right to equal protection under the law.

Denver should work with teens and parents to come up with a real solution to crime issues -- one that doesn't deprive everyone in a certain age group of protected freedoms.