“If the police are there, scatter,” my friends mom jokingly told us as we left for the Wildwood playground to play basketball. We never expected the police to actually be there, for them to send us home because it was nearing 10 p.m., or for the night to be ruined because of an unfair rule.
The curfew for minors in Piedmont should not be 10 p.m. According to section 12.2 of the city code of Piedmont, the punishment for a minor being out past 10 p.m. unaccompanied by an adult is a misdemeanor. Although the Piedmont police hardly ever enforce this law, it is still frightening to think that I could receive such a harsh punishment for simply wanting to play basketball with my friends.
10 p.m. is ridiculously early for a curfew. Whose parents have a curfew that early for them? I do not even go to bed by 10 p.m. on a school night and I know that my friends do not either. On weekends, kids finally have a chance to relax and hang out with their friends. However, the curfew inhibits this, especially for kids who are not old enough to drive. They have to make sure to start walking home early enough so they will not receive a punishment for being out past curfew. There are even some situations where students are even attending school-sponsored events that last past 10 p.m. Dances and sports games often last until 10 p.m. or later. My walk home takes about 30 minutes which means I would be out past curfew for at least that time even though I was attending a school event.
Growing up should prepare students for the real world. Part of that preparation is learning to handle freedom responsibly. Having a curfew as early as 10 p.m. does not allow kids to learn for themselves how to manage their time. If the city removed the curfew or pushed it back, parents would have to implement a curfew for their children. This way, the parent can give their own child a curfew that they see fit. Parents have a better understanding of their own children’s needs. Also, a standardized curfew as early as 10 p.m. would never be able to appease everyone’s individual desires.
I understand that the reason for the curfew is probably because teenagers are often loud, and the police will get complaints from parents. Instead, it is easier just to make the curfew 10 p.m. and call it a day. However, kids do not acknowledge the curfew. Instead, they stay out with their friends and hope the police are not around to make them go home. This system is inefficient. Kids who are not disrupting anyone could get sent home while kids who are may not. Instead of the curfew being 10 p.m., it should be later and the police should solely respond to noise complaints instead of patrolling for kids. This way, kids who are not being disruptive can stay out past 10 p.m.
Even pushing the curfew back to 11 p.m. or midnight would give kids more time in the night to hang out with their friends and to get home by the time the curfew starts. Another option would be no curfew at all. Pushing the curfew back or removing it and responding to noise complaints would satisfy everyone. Kids would learn to manage their time in a more responsible fashion and adults would be able to complain if they feel necessary, and action would be taken in those circumstances.