Youth Violence Interventions
Public curfews have been imposed periodically
through the nations history. Most are targeted toward youth under 16 years
of age, and extend from 11 PM to 6 AM on school days, and from midnight to 6 AM
on non-school days. Usually, exceptions are made for juveniles escorted by an adult,
travel to or from work, emergencies, school or church activities and other special
circumstances. Violations generally result in a parental fine of $75 to $500 (LeBoef 1996).
Curfew ordinances must pass a two-pronged
test to survive a constitutional challenge. Local jurisdictions must demonstrate
that 1) there is a compelling state interest in imposing the curfew, and 2) that
the ordinance is narrowly tailored to achieve its objective (enhancing public safety).
Communities enacting juvenile curfews have
reported reductions in crime ranging from 10% to 27% during curfew hours. Most have
relied on simple before-after comparisons that do not take into account other changes
in the community that may have coincided with curfew effects. The impact of curfews
on overall rates of juvenile violence is less clear. Analysis of juvenile crime
data from South Carolina suggests that the per-hour rate of juvenile offending in
the "after-school" hours of 2 to 6 PM may be four times greater than the
rate of juvenile crime during late night "curfew" hours. However, large
cities like Dallas report that the majority of violent juvenile crimes (rapes, robberies,
aggravated assaults and homicides) occur between 10 PM and 1 AM (LeBoef 1996). Much more must be known before we can confidently predict
whether curfews are worth the financial and social cost.