Youth curfews, not the best crime fighting tool

As good as it may seem on the surface, a youth curfew with monetary penalties for parents will probably do very little in the way of decreasing the number of thefts, property crimes and other similar offenses of the area.

While poking around on the Wetaskiwin Rant and Rave Facebook site, and seeing a social experiment public poll on the matter, the idea of a curfew, as well at the Wetaskiwin, Leduc and Beaumont results posed an interesting question; especially with two of the three communities having more ‘no’ votes than ‘yes’, which was surprising.

A curfew in communities as large as Wetaskiwin, Leduc and Beaumont would face enforcement challenges. Random cruises don’t seem like the most fruitful or time-effective method, and increased patrols in targeted problem areas will only keep any devious youths off the streets for as long as it takes them to find a new location.

While most communities exclude youths who are out after hours due to work, volunteering, sports, or other adult supervised activities, as well as the areas outside immediately in front of the home, it could be difficult to prove why someone is outside. Maybe not so much in the very early hours of the morning but closer to the when the curfew starts.

Peace of mind and parental control seem like they would be benefits of s curfew. But are those obstinate enough to disobey parents who want the child home at a decent time suddenly going to become more complaint simply because there is now a bylaw in place?

And, eventually youth will age out of the parameters encompassed in the curfew. But that does not mean they automatically become upstanding members of society simply based on their age.

To address crime levels of the area, education starting at a young age seems like a better tactic.

Having searched back through RCMP press release emails — exempting most traffic collisions and missing persons reports — the message was pretty clear. While most did not include suspect ages because the suspects were unidentified, the majority with listed ages were of people above 18 years old. Of those below the age of 18: four files were of serious cases such as stabbing, dangerous driving and armed robbery. The remaining three cases were a break and enter, stolen property and theft.

Youth is not synonymous with delinquency and more mature ages does not guarantee a respect for other or their property.

While a curfew would be a positive, although not without many challenges, simply because youth do not need to be wandering the streets at all hours, it don’t not seem like a practical crime prevention tactic.

amelia.naismith@pipestoneflyer.ca