The proposed Montgomery County curfew would restrict the rights of young people. It would prohibit youth under the age of 18 from being out in public from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 12 a.m. to 5 a.m., Friday and Saturday. The curfew, which was tabled by the County Council on Tuesday December 6, is not a good or productive idea. Instead it is another excuse for police to use profiling and diminish the freedom of young people.
I understand the intentions of the officials who have proposed and are fighting to implement this curfew. They want the best for the Montgomery County community, and they believe they can achieve that by keeping teenagers inside after 11 p.m. to reduce crime. It all sounds great except that crime happens during the day as well. More to the point, the young people who are going to commit crimes or violent acts at night aren’t worried about a silly curfew imposed by people they don’t know or respect.
In a utopian society all parents would set strict rules for their children to keep them out of trouble, but not every parent is from Stepford. Different parents have different parenting styles, and some don’t set the same (or any) rules for their children, plenty of whom wouldn’t follow them regardless. Nobody can change that, not even a condescending upper-middle-class woman who sacrificed a swim to teach her children a lesson. Parenting should be a job for parents who know their individual children.
A law should not be able to overrule the judgement of parents and teens about when the appropriate time to get off the streets is.
In this same perfect world, cops would keep all bias out of their duties. However, profiling will inevitably slip in to a cop’s instincts when out looking for trouble. Nobody can promise otherwise.
Montgomery County police officer Robert Carter begs to differ. He says, “Today’s Montgomery County police are part of one of the first generations of Americans to have grown up ‘color blind,’ or for that matter blind to all bias,” which is completely ridiculous and unrealistic. No person, let alone a cop, is color blind. Profiling is just a strategy that police use. I don’t condone racial profiling for any purpose. How does a cop, or anybody for that matter, know that because I’m a young white female, I’ve been staying out of trouble? This curfew is just another reason to use this unfair tactic.
Carter claims he’s looking for the “bad kids based on their behavior,” but the behavior he describes is either unpreventable, non-threatening, or typical of many teenagers, not just the “bad” ones. Looking out for teenagers who aren’t spending money in the business district is pointless; we’re teenagers, we don’t have money no matter what type of kid we are.
Carter wants to take the “bad kids” off the streets even if it’s just for one night, but his methods are idealistic and will be ineffective. He notes all of the activities the “good kids” do to prove he’s not out to nab teenagers out late, but his generic list is typical of all teenagers. “Bad kids” go to movies and concerts too. “Bad kids” go out on dates. And the real “bad kids” would lie to a cop about their ages and say they were doing those things anyway. How would the policeman determine who just left the Cheap Trick concert and who was waiting outside to snatch wallets? Racial profiling.
I can say as a teenage girl that the kids Carter mentions who curse or holler at young women as they walk by, while irritating, are not threatening. It’s the men older than those kids, the ones who are drinking out late that call out or follow us, that make us feel unsafe. Nobody will tell the 30-year-olds to go home before midnight because it would restrict their freedom and take away their rights. What about the rights of young people?
As a resident of Montgomery County under the age of 18 this proposed curfew is something that would directly affect my life, regardless of whether I’m a trouble maker or not. I’m one of the “good kids” based on Robert Carter’s criteria. However, because I don’t have a curfew set by my parents, I could still be taken into police custody for being out at night.
Not every teenager is trying to pick a fight or steal something when they’re out late. Walking home from a friend’s house should not be a crime and parents should be allowed to parent. A law put in place to restrict, contain, or protect someone of my demographic is an unnecessary technicality. A government imposed curfew would strip away the little freedom awarded to young people.
Check out post for the opinion of somebody else who would be affected.