The New Teen Curfew: Regulating Juvenile Evening Activities

The new under 18 curfew in Virginia places restrictions on teens


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For many, half of being a teenager, particularly in high school, means several expected privileges – staying up late, being by oneself more, driving, and overall independence.These can be exciting experiences, but this may not be the whole reality due to recent decision-making to prevent violent events with teens. According to The Washington Post, Prince George’s County and the District of Columbia (DC) are placing a curfew on minors. 

“The Prince George’s County curfew will be in effect between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on school nights, and between midnight and 5 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays,” The Washington Post said. “D.C.’s curfew is between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. on school nights and between midnight and 6 a.m. on weekend nights.”

The punishments for breaking this curfew are fines to the parents/legal guardians up to $250 and police are requesting that the guardians of the teen come pick them up. As a result, this limits the freedom or opportunity of teens. 

Now, many may want to know: “how are teens going to react?”, “what does this mean for other counties in Virginia, like Arlington” and “how will this develop long-term?”

According to the Prince William County Police Department, the conversation about this curfew started in the mid-1990s. 

“No event in Prince William County inspired the curfew ordinance,” Chief Newsham, their Public Information Officer (PIO) said. “At the time, curfews were being enacted across the county in response to crimes involving juveniles.”

 According to the department, the curfew is to teach and then return the minors home to prevent them from becoming active in unsafe and/or criminal activities that happen overnight. 

“Keeping juveniles safe and out of becoming part of criminal activity is important,” the PIO said. “The goal is to deter criminal activity, both teens potentially committing crimes and becoming victims of crimes. We have always sought to educate, not enforce primarily. Unless there is a legitimate purpose for being out past curfew, juveniles should be home or where they need to be (in the event of a job).”

The police department has said that they are unaware  of any significant impact on the community regarding relationships between teens and their parents. Additionally, they believe it is up to the leadership teams of other locations to implement the curfew. 

Suyana Fernandez, a student at Catholic University of America and W-L alum, believes this rule is only applicable for safety in high crime areas. . 

“If it’s for reasons of safety, and if that area is mostly a dangerous area, then I understand,” Fernandez said. “If they don’t have a lot of records, then I don’t think it would make much sense. But if it is for safety reasons and if it wasn’t such a good area, then I would understand.”

She added that if there needs to be a curfew, it should be midnight.

“I think midnight would be a good curfew unless you’re staying at somebody’s house that you know, that makes sense,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez believes that the curfew may do more bad than good. 

“I feel like this would only really cause kids to start really sneaking out at night,” Fernandez said. “It really depends on the kids’ relationship with their parents, because that would be a really big issue if their relationship with their parents is really toxic. Even if they put that rule on it, teenagers would still find some sort of way to sneak out and to depart and come back at three, because it is such a routine. Maybe they’ll cause some people to change, but the majority will stay [the same].” 

With her own experiences going out at night, she said that good communication with her parents is key. Fernandez believes that students who go out during the early mornings may not be telling the [full] truth to their parents.  

“Students know that there are a lot of parties and that there is a lot of social life at night, usually on Fridays,” Fernandez said. “I have snuck out before but I don’t do it as much because I am older. I have such great communication with my parents so I am confident to tell them what I’m gonna do. I trust my parents and I have good communication with them. I feel like lying only happens if you don’t really have good communication with your parents. I don’t think it’s much of an issue of being outside.”

Carolyn Newman, a senior at W-L, stated her feelings as a student.

“If I was ever to sneak out, it’s because I just want to hang out with people,” Newman said.  “I also think that people are going to do drugs and bad things, whether there’s a curfew or not. Maybe it could limit it a little bit, but I also think no matter what people will just get into more trouble. There will be more issues between police and parents.”

Newman said applying these general rules too many situations can be harmful. 

“It won’t work for a lot of people, maybe it will for some, but I think for a lot of people it won’t,” Newman said. “I do think that it would create a lot of issues between parents and kids when really I think they should find a way to deal with that themselves. Parents should have a good enough relationship with their kids to be able to talk to them, but many don’t, which I understand. I think they should find a way to work on that instead of just issuing a rule that affects everybody. I don’t think that you can stop drug use. Whether they do it outside, in their house, or in their friend’s house, it’s going to happen.”

Whether or not Arlington will enact something similar will be revealed in the coming months.There are currently no updates in Arlington so far. The big question is how the general community will react to this decision.

If these regulations came to Arlington, Newman said she does not believe students would take it well. 

“I think kids would get really angry and nobody would follow it,” Newman said. “I think there would be a lot more issues with authorities.”


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