Giving Teens a Daytime Curfew Is Un-American


police carPersonally, when I think of a "truant officer," I imagine a sour-faced, pot-bellied character from some long-ago episode of "The Little Rascals." A washed-up killjoy on the same level of semi-threatening villian as, say, a dog-catcher. But apparently some towns in Kentucky are bringing back the trend, and the consequences for "truant" kids are a lot more severe than anything Spanky or Alfalfa had to deal with.

In fact, thanks to a daytime curfew that went into effect on January 2, police in In Covington, Kentucky, are now legally allowed to arrest kids who are found "truant" (i.e., not in school during school hours). Once apprehended, cops have the option of taking a kid back to school, returning him to the custody of his parents, slapping the kid (and possibly the parents) with a court date, and/or charging the kid (and, again, possibly the parents) with a misdemeanor.

Why not just lock the kid up in the pound until the parents pay for dog human tags?

Look, I get what they're trying to do -- boost high school graduation rates, slash juvenile crime rates, blah blah blah. And sure, I guess a teen faced with the choice between sucking it up and going to algebra class or risk being put in a pair of handcuffs might decide algebra ain't so bad after all.

But all of that is beside the point, which is this: Arresting minors for breaking an imposed daytime curfew is a violation of civil liberties. That's why curfews -- day or night, juvenile or adult -- should be fought, and usually are. Curfews are associated with some pretty hairy times in history; some pretty oppressive political types (yes, incuding the Nazi party). As a mom, I understand the seduction for parents; the concept of having a theoretical "village" helping to watch over your kids is somewhat comforting. But in reality, a curfew like the one in Covington, Kentucky is more like having Big Brother flat-out watching your kids.

And that's not comforting at all.

Never mind the impracticality, the potential for day-to-day, individualized injustice. What about kids who are being homeschooled? What about a kid who has a morning orthodontist appointment or gets sent home early for a sore throat?

Imposing a daytime curfew on kids is, without a doubt, un-American. And if I lived in a town where I had to worry about my kid being ARRESTED for walking down the street in the middle of the day, I would, without a doubt, be packing our bags.

Do you think giving teens a daytime curfew is un-American?


Image via Paul Sullivan/Flickr

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mamab... mamabunny2010

Lol!  Oh this is hilarious! I like how making kids go to school is compared to the Nazi Regime!  Feeling a little extremist today, aren't we??  In Indiana, we've had this law for years.  If you have a child and that child isn't in school, a law has been broken.  NOBODY has ever gone to Juvie because they were going to the dentist or because they were "homeschooled"...(surely you weren't serious when you proposed that idea? Were you? Lol!). I highly doubt it's to increase graduation rates, it's because businesses and homeowners don't want a bunch of teenagers loitering and destroying their property.  I am also pretty sure that the majority, if not all teenagers, that skip school probably have some other deep-seeded issues going on at home or otherwise.  But let's be real, if my daughter ever thought for a second that it was okay to skip school and roam around the city, I would be glad to be the first one to call in the cops.  But here's the real point...if you are doing your job as a parent, why are you so worried?

memek... memekisses

Around here and where I grew up(California ) if a kid was playing hookie the police could arrest them and take them back home/school. Nothing new about that and Im ok with it.

phoen... phoenixmom2011

I grew up in california where we had truant officers all a parent had to do was write a note with a phone number to be reached or let the school know about any reason the child would be out so the officer could call and verify. If sent home from school the school sent a note with you as for home schooling my nieces and nephews home school. They have a facility they report to once a week and have special home school I.D. Cards. Yes kids will always find ways around things it makes them think twice.

Eversnow Eversnow

Nothing new at all. Here in Alabama they had the exact same thing. They didn't really enforce it though. I wouldn't have a problem with a cop taking my child back to school or returning them to me if they were caught playing hooky. But arresting and taking to Juvinile hall or slapping the parents with a court date seems a little much. Why should the parents get taken to jail if the child left the school grounds? Isn't that the teachers and adults at the schools job to watch them and make sure they are in line during school hours? I never understood that. But I agree with mamabunny2010 on her last point, If you do your job as a parent, none of it should matter to begin with.

tracy... tracylynnr67

No I don't. Unless a teen can prove they are homeschooled or legally not enrolled in school (a drop out) then they SHOULD be held accountable for that. With more and more parents working and it being easier for teens to cut school I think it's a great idea to make it a law that teens enrolled in school cannot be out and about when they should be in class.

ashja ashja

The same people who gripe about laws like this are the ones who want everyone off welfare. WHERE do you think welfare recipients come from? Requiring children to be in school rather than roaming the streets is un-American? Wow. BTW, if you homeschool, you have to register with the school board, which you can prove, and dentist appointsments are easy enough to prove, what a ridiculous argument!

ashja ashja


nonmember avatar ele4phant

Pretty sure where I was growing up, cops would take you back to school if you were skipping. Maybe there wasn't a curfew per say, but if you were apprehended for something else (and not to generalize but often the kids who were skipping did so to do something like go smoke in the woods), the cops would bring you back to school.

Whitn... WhitneySM

This article is a joke. Another one of Jacqueline Burt's backwards opinions.

Mommy... MommyOfOne2710

In Minnesota, they don't do anything like that... I can't count the times I've been out and about during school hours, along with my friends, and I've never even heard of a kid getting arrested. How stupid.

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