If Juvenile Curfews Don't Work, Why Do Cities Keep Investing In Them?

alarm clock
Zain Murdock
August 17, 2023

When school’s out in the summer, more Black youth have plenty of time to be outside. And while that’s cause for celebration, that also means the return of juvenile curfews in major Black cities like Baltimore and Memphis. 

Curfews are not only rooted in a history of anti-Blackness, but also have no significant evidence of working to reduce violence. But let’s dig into this even deeper.

In Baltimore’s case, one new change is sending social workers instead of police to transport youth who miss curfew to a recreation center. But even though this may remove contact with police, it still involves child protective services and criminalizes poverty.

Parents may get fined hundreds of dollars if their children break curfew. Social workers may not have a badge but can still participate in adultifying Black youth and separating Black families.

This widespread approach also doesn’t address individual experiences, like being unhoused, working night jobs, or escaping abusive families. 

Enforcing Baltimore’s curfew is a $500,000 cost. Instead of resourcing the same old failure, why not invest in alternate possibilities?

The system tries disciplining Black youth by reproducing harm instead of addressing concerns. But instead of taking away, what can we give to Black youth to improve their lives and facilitate safety? And how can we involve their ideas and experiences in these decisions?

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