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Friday, 3 August, 2001, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Will child curfews work?
New legislation giving local authorities the power to impose curfews on older children comes into force on Wednesday.
The law - designed to defend communities from anti-social behaviour and to protect children - will extend curfew schemes to include youths up to the age of 15.
Three years ago similar measures were introduced for children under ten but so far councils haven't used them.
The Home Office Minister Beverley Hughes says important changes have now been made to the scheme. But opponents have criticised the new measures as unenforceable.
Will the curfews work? Are they the best way of dealing with anti-social behaviour of young people?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
It is impossible to solve repression by using repression. If the British government enforces this law, rebellious teenagers will, then, be definitively convinced that society is actually against them.
Colin Wright, UK
When parental responsibility
is so lacking, in certain
parts of the country, something
must take its place. But all
those bent on chaos, don't
worry, because the same
local authorities, which
preside over our excellent
schools and health system,
will make sure, that this
curfew will never be
If the parents, police and the judiciary did their job there would be no need for curfews.
Perhaps we should see the idea of bringing a new life into the world as a privilege with a duty attached, as opposed to a "right". A right is not a right when it allows you to ruin your children's chance of a successful life because of your lack of responsibility. That's called a breach of their right to a suitable upbringing.
I agree in part with the suggestions here that a curfew is not the answer to reducing general problems caused by young people on the streets. However this legislation does not appear to be for that purpose. It gives the council or police the power to impose a curfew and remove young people from the streets in areas and at times where trouble is likely. I see this power being used in circumstances like the Bradford riots, where allowing the police to remove young trouble makers from the streets will reduce further trouble. In this case allowing a curfew can only be a good thing!
Neighbourhood evils are omnipresent and the least parents can do is ensure that they know at any given time where their offspring are and exactly what they are doing. It shows the extent of neglect if a curfew has to be enforced. Do we have sufficient police to see that this curfew is enforced? And how will the children who cannot get to sleep occupy themselves indoors?
Another example of this ludicrous fascist government telling everyone what to do. London Underground, Brass Eye, the list goes on. No wonder Genoa happens when idiots like the posturing Blair are allowed on to the world stage.
I'm a 17 year-old girl, so I won't actually be affected, but it is unfair to punish a whole generation when it is only a minority that are causing the problem. I know from experience that being a teenager is very stressful and we need time to go out and relax with friends once in a while. It is both unreasonable and unfair to punish children for wanting to relax, when the reason that this is a necessity is due to the same people who have passed this legislation, i.e. increasing the workload at school and introducing more exams.
What will happen to all the young people who are taking part in legitimate activities but causing no trouble - will they be subject to the curfews as well?
My 15 year-old son often meets with friends, often outdoors in summer, they often stay out after 9 p.m.
This also applies to young people getting home from meetings of Church groups, youth clubs, Scouts and Guides - will they all be summarily told to get off the streets?
Curfew will put pressure on parents to take more interest in the activities of their children. Boredom is not an excuse for destructiveness, vandalism or robbery. We expect children to behave like adults when their nature is to be unruly if they are not supervised by adults. Curfew may force them to use their brains to entertain themselves instead of expecting everything to be laid on for them.
Curfews will work but I think more needs to be done to those who break it.
I am 37 and a father of three. This idea that there needs to be something else for the young people to do is rubbish. I come from a small mining village called New Cumnock where there was nothing for the young people to do and I mean nothing. I grew up fine. I think there is no doubt in my mind that the parents are to blame for a lot of reasons like not knowing where there children are at night, and a lot of them being left to there own devices through the day when there parents are out working. I could go on and on but yes curfews can work
I think the problem lies with the parents, if they where made to start taking responsibility for their children rather than getting rid of them at every opportunity then maybe we may see some results. I think curfews may sounds ok in theory but put into practice I don't think it is a solution. The main reason being it would be too hard to police.
I think the local councils should spend some money and sort out some decent facilities for the kids, things like youth clubs and leisure centres that don't charge the earth. I'm sure most of these kids just have nothing better to do than hang about causing trouble.
For the ones that do cause trouble, they should be given the same sentences as adults, if they can rob houses, joy ride, assault and vandalise they should be treated like the criminals they are.
Take back the streets, British youth. I hope you'll all be out late at night, clogging police stations and making nuisance of their work when picked up. I'm surprised that supposedly liberal countries like France and now the UK could as much as consider such a dictatorial move to solve the situation. I'm truly shocked at the extent governments use their mandate to regulate us.
I really don't think that Government-imposed curfews are the answer to anything. However, parent-imposed curfews ARE.
For "this child can not be controlled" read "I can not be bothered to invest the time to coach better behaviours"
Children from a very early age learn that bad behaviour gets attention. A parent that realises this actively and enthusiastically responds to, and rewards, good behaviour and pays the minimum amount of attention to bad behaviour - the children learn and develop good behaviour patterns that then become second nature.
HOW MUCH do you want the children of your country to hate you? If you even think about doing something like that, every kid would rebel, trust me. In the U.S., no one would try to do that! It's ageism! You're probably wondering why I even care, since I'm in America, But I'm saying this for every teenager in the world.
Curfews won't work because they don't address the cause of juvenile anti-social behaviour. The root lies with the parents. Parents ought to be made to pay for the damage their children cause. But parents should also be allowed to physically discipline their children too, without the risk of being to taken to court for it. It's commonsense. Children nowadays know they can get away with anything.
The curfew proposals are incompatible with the Human Rights Act as it discriminates on the grounds of age. If those under 15 face a curfew then so to must those over 15 and this includes adults.
As a teenager myself, I think it is ridiculous that there would be a curfew. Kids "displaying anti-social behaviour" will simply not follow the curfew rule. It's that simple.
Hurrah for common sense - children should remain at home until they are old enough to behave responsibly in the outside world.
if it does not cause pain or suffering it has to be tested. if used it must be enforced and strictly monitored
Curfews give the message that all young people out after 9.00 p.m. must be up to no good and out of the control of their parents. Not true. Many 14 and 15 year-olds are outside with their friends just talking and chatting. A harmless and perfectly normal activity. Target the "yobs" certainly but not all young people just because they live in a certain area.
Why stop at kids? Adults are more disruptive, and cause more crime, so let's have a 9 p.m. curfew on everyone!
What a brilliant way to alienate a generation.
Jamie Walker, UK
Is it not the parents' responsibility to make sure their children a indoors at a sensible time and to teach them respect for others? It was in my day!
It is time parents were forced to take responsibility for their children. If a child commits a crime then the parent must pay the victim. If a child violates a curfew then the parent is fined. If the parent has no job then the money should be automatically taken from their benefit cheques. When there is a monetary penalty involved we shall soon hear the last of the "I can't control him/her" excuses!
A tougher line needs to be taken with the growing number of under-age yobs who seem beyond the law. But as some others have commented, the root of the problem lies with parents and their education. Children aren't born yobs, they are created as a direct result of their parents choice of upbringing, regardless of wealth, location etc as so many left-wingers and whinging civil rights people are quick to blame. Educate and enforce responsibility on the parents to turn the tide of our growing UK yobbo culture.
Growing up in Berkshire we were constantly sneered at and condemned, simply for being young. We were refused parks and other leisure facilities. When I applied for a student overdraft to go to university with I was declined with the reason 'I do not like to encourage young people'. Understandably we were frustrated and angry. Children and teenagers need mental and physical stimulation, not rebuttal and isolation.
Fantastic idea! This will work just as well as telling kids not to fight, pick their noses, do their homework and respect their elders.
With a government that won't even pay teachers a decent wage, it's far easier to lock children in their bedrooms at night, than it is to confront the very real problems in today's society.
This is a nasty encroachment upon human rights and can only exacerbate the alienation felt by many adolescents.
Plain and simple curfews will not work. The police force is underfunded as it is, and they have better things to do than make sure kids are where they should be. Who else would enforce it?
Better bus services and more sports grounds might work better than these 'police state' measures.
As others have said, this is treating the symptom and not the cause.
We will have these problems for as long as kids are brought up
by parents who don't give a damn, and for as long as they're
fed an endless diet of sex, violence and depravity by the media. Just look at the sort of rubbish you can readily buy at any corner shop. Anti-social behaviour, fuelled
by drugs and alcohol, is 'cool', and that's the real problem.
Perhaps there should be a general curfew as we are disturbed by students at 2.00am.
The curfew hours are between 9.00pm and 6.00am, surely it is not unreasonable for children to be at home between these hours?
It's all very well going after the children (and I have four boys), but what about clamping down on the parents?
For as long as the liberal "human rights" brigade are allowed to insist that the right of one yob to remain in a specified area is more important than the rights of the many who live there to be protected from terror, abuse, and frequently racism, then curfew orders will have no effect, other than keeping a few lawyers in business.
This is treating the symptom and not the cause yet again. Britain has denigrated the role of fatherhood for many years now, so it is difficult to find men who will accept family responsibility anymore, and badly behaved children are one of the results. To make up for the deficiency, the Nanny State is having to intervene with yet more restrictions on liberty.
Dave Harris, Bath, UK
I live in a rural area near Aberdeen. There is an 8 year old boy making the lives of residents a misery. There is already one house up for sale as a direct result of his tactics. It is pointless speaking to his parents since, because they consider themselves upstanding members of the community they would not entertain the fact that their son is out of control and socially inept. Let me assure you that the area of which I speak is quite well to do and problems of this nature are not limited to inner city areas as it is often thought.
In my village (population 10,000) in Bucks, there's nothing for young people. No cinema, a park that's not worth its name, no swimming pool, no sports hall of any kind. All we have is bus shelters and a train station. Here in France, they can go to the gym for £15 a month, swim for less than £3 a time and there's a children's summer camp locally. Curfews aren't the answer. You need to stimulate and interest the child not restrict them.
Where I live in London, there are bands of children roaming the streets between school finishing time (and often before) and the small hours of the morning. These children are making the lives of residents in this area a living hell. Being woken at 2am by a gang of a dozen or so children, aged 8 to 16 or so, sitting on the garden wall and yelling at each other is no joke. Talking to their parents is a waste of time - I've been told that one of these children "just can't be controlled". This boy is eight years old!
Local councils should provide places where children can meet safely in the evenings, such as community centres, youth clubs and so on. As poverty is often a problem with these troublemakers, make these evening activities either very cheap or free. Once the "but I'm bored" defence has been removed, then the curfews should be enforced, and parents forced (on pain of court proceedings and/or eviction) to keep control of their children.
Peter Moody, UK
I am not sure that curfews are the answer. My action plan:
1) revoke licences for any store found selling alcohol to under 18s - no excuses, no mercy.
2) Name and shame offenders - there is no positive benefit to society in protecting these youngsters
3) Not only make parents pay compensation to their children's victims, but criminalise the inadequate supervision of minors. And NO, I don't think that "I can't do anything with him/her" is a valid excuse. Your kids are your responsibility, and if they run amok and cause trouble for others, then ultimately the blame lies with you.
4) Let's see the police show some resolve in dealing with this problem. I have been on the end of the "What do you expect me to do?" routine from a police officer. I was not amused, and when I told the officer to get over the road to the lads house to give him a fright he was so shocked that he actually did as I told him. We had no more trouble - indeed we became quite friendly with the lad and his family.
I like children - I have two of my own. Most kids are good, but if they are left to their own devices they will undoubtedly stray.
Another anti-youth knee jerk reaction that will accomplish nothing. Are young people not to be allowed to socialise in public?
The very act of being together in a group of kids is enough to earn condemnation from some in our "society".
The use of curfews is not going to stop anti-social behaviour. The present law has been around for 3 years, yet has never been used, so the future for the new system is hardly glowing. Another useless ill-thought policy initiative? Yes, Yes and Yes again.
They will only be effective if the parents get involved in keeping their children at home during the curfew period and organising something to prevent them getting bored and restless.
But if parents did that anyway, there probably wouldn't be any need for child curfews in the first place.
Without new parents - doomed to failure I suspect.
Only parental discipline works, and that's something that has to be worked at from birth, you can't suddenly decide to impose it after years of laissez-faire.
There are many reasons why children might want to be outside after nine o'clock. When I was under 16, I attended music lessons, a sports group and a school study group. All of these activities ended at nine o'clock or before, but because of the rural area I lived in, and the inadequate transport service, I spent up to an hour afterwards waiting at a bus stop. But even if I had just been outside meeting with friends, I don't see what is wrong with that. There is often little else for children to do. Who are the Government to impose curfews on children? Surely parents and the children themselves are responsible enough to organise their own lives.
I think that time will tell on this one. I'm convinced that the majority of police officers will act responsibly on this. However, this is an area that could be open to unfair discrimination.
It may be, however, that too much time is diverted away from much more important crime prevention/protection.
I think curfews will work on one proviso. Once you've established the curfew and taken the children off the streets, what are you going to do for them? They're hanging around because they're bored. We need more funding for leisure activities for them. All it requires are highly motivated members of local communities to get involved in becoming team leaders. We need to channel children's energy in the right way, at the moment, in many cases, we don't.
01 Aug 01 | UK
Child curfew laws extended
06 Sep 99 | UK
Children 'should be protected, not punished'
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