It's the weekend. And for teenagers, that means going out, staying up late and basically just being a teen. This week, the Greensboro city council passed a curfew for downtown -- starting Jan. 1 anyone under 18 is banned from being downtown from 11 p.m.-6 a.m. The idea is that it will help curb violence. But the whole thing has me thinking, do we need a curfew installed by the government? Why are 17 year olds hanging out at clubs downtown in the middle of the night anyway? Isn't that the stomping ground of young 20-somethings, who are legally adults and able to drink if they want?
I'm not against the curfew, if the city thinks it will help we should go for it, and we're not the only city to have a curfew. Of course, there are arguments against it, including that it demonizes our youth. But the whole thing has me thinking about teens, parents and curfews, and how hard it is to decide what time to make your child be home and ensure he sticks to it.
I had a pretty simple curfew. 11 p.m., unless I talked to my parents ahead of time about the specific event I was going to and why I would be late. My brother had no curfew, and I'm not the only person who has said their family had a double standard when it came to curfews. But that was years ago. Now I'm a parent of a teenager, and even though he's a boy, his father and I both think it's appropriate to have a specific time he should be in. But what is that time supposed to be? 11 p.m., like the city said? Should it be the same on week nights? What if they work a job that has them closing up late?
It's a really tough call. I think it depends on the activity the teen wants to go to, and maybe even the teen himself. Curfews are made to help kids learn to be responsible, and also to keep them safe. Maybe a teenager thinks they can drive just fine at 2 a.m., but everyone's reflexes get a little worse the tireder you are. And maybe it's not even about your kids, but who else is driving on the road at 2 a.m. Whether they like it or not, kids might even welcome a curfew. If they're at a party, and someone pulls out some marijuana, it's much easier to say they have to leave because they have to be home at a certain time or face the wrath of their parents than to try to make some excuse like they're tired and want to go home.
It all gives us something to think about. The downtown curfew might not start until Jan. 1, but in this household, our teen is expected to be home by 11 p.m. So far, we haven't faced any arguments. But then again, he doesn't have his license yet!