Curfew is simply “an order for certain persons to return home daily before a certain time” according to Wikipedia. Curfew typically applies to those age 18 and younger. Teenage curfew ordinances are typically set at the local city or county government level and are enforced by local law enforcement agencies. These laws will generally prohibit anyone under a specific age from being in public or at a business establishment between certain hours (10PM to 6AM for example). Curfew times may be different on weekends than on week days. These rules are enacted to help prevent juvenile crimes and help to maintain general peace.
While you may choose to set your own curfew rules for your household, you should be aware of what the curfew laws are in your area to make sure that your kids are in compliance. If your curfew rules are earlier than what the local curfew laws are, you may consider coming up with a parent contract that will set out what your rules and expectations are. You may choose to have a set curfew on school nights, a separate curfew for weekends, and another curfew for when your child or teen is out of school. You may also want to set in the contract when and how exceptions will be made and what needs to be done to arrange for those exceptions. Also, make sure to include what the specific consequences are for breaking curfew and what is considered “late”. Is a minute past curfew late? Or will you allow a 10 minute window? If you are specific and your child signs a contract, you won’t have to argue every night over 5 or 15 minutes.
Some exceptions for juveniles being out after curfew may include:
- Minors accompanied by a parent or guardian
- Minors traveling to or from work
- Minors attending official school or religious events
- Minors running errands under an adult’s instruction
Again, these are just a general idea and you should always check out your local laws to find out what the specifics are of your local curfew legislation. Some punishments that you may find for those that break curfew may include:
- Fines (usually increasing for subsequent violations)
- Imposition of community service or required enrollment in after – school programs
- Restriction of driver’s license privileges
- Possible detention in jail or juvenile hall
Whatever you decide, make sure you know the local laws and that your family rules are in compliance with those laws. If you and your teen are clear on the rules and expectations, you will have a much better chance of keeping your teen safe and out of trouble.