A permanent 10 p.m. curfew for anybody under the age of 18 in the city was approved by Philadelphia City Council on Thursday in a last-ditch effort to safeguard its young constituents from the city’s escalating gun violence.
Approved by Mayor Jim Kenney, the bill would impose restrictions requiring anyone between the ages of 14 and 17 to arrive home by 10 p.m., and children under the age of 13 to arrive home by 9:30 p.m. Later, at 6 a.m., the curfew would be lifted.
Since 1955, Philadelphia has had a juvenile curfew of some kind in effect, including a 10 p.m. curfew that was in effect for the summer but was lifted in September. In spite of the new 10 p.m. curfew, more children were shot in Philadelphia this summer than any other summer before, according to police records.
According to experts, youth curfews have little to no impact on crime or victimization rates for young people. For example, since 2015, 72% of Philadelphia’s young shooting victims have been harmed in the hours leading up to the city’s 10 p.m. curfew.
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Philadelphia’s Curfew For Teenagers
A 10 p.m. curfew for anyone under the age of 18 seems to be going into effect in Philadelphia, and there is some discussion of fining parents of minors who break it once more. Much of the summer saw the city enforce the 10 p.m. rule (the previous curfew was at midnight), but at the end of September, the law authorising the earlier curfew expired.
The goal of the curfew, according to its proponents, is to protect young people from the city’s historically high gunfire rates. Curfews, according to researchers, have little to no effect on crime or victimisation rates. Additionally, police statistics show that this summer’s curfew period coincided with more child shootings than any other summer in history.
After an hour-long hearing on Tuesday, the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety voted to extend the curfew. The bill, supported by Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson, could be approved by the entire Council as soon as next week. The mayor’s spokesperson would only say that he would “review the legislation if it is passed,” declining to say whether Mayor Jim Kenney planned to sign the legislation.
The law mandates that children aged 13 and younger must be in their homes by 9:30 p.m. and that teenagers aged 14 to 17 must do the same. There are a few exceptions, such as for kids and teenagers who are employed, enrolled in school, or involved in extracurricular activities.
When the police catch kids breaking the curfew, they must first take them home. In the absence of adult supervision, police are to transport the child to a police station or one of the city’s brand-new community evening resource centres.
Two centres that are operated by neighbourhood associations and funded by the city opened in January and offer children’s programming from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. The city, which allocated $2 million for the centres this year, is anticipated to open two more this month.
Except for school band and orchestra concerts, Central High School junior Amy Liao said she rarely ventures outside after curfew. She questions whether the policy will reduce youth-on-youth violence.
In light of the recent string of youth-involved shootings that have taken place well before curfew hours, Liao warned that children “could be out before 10 p.m. and also do violence.” The resource centres, in Liao’s opinion, are merely a minor bright spot: “I’m not sure if this is the solution, but it’s better than getting arrested.”
Joel Dales, a deputy police commissioner, referred to the curfews as “effective” in June and noted the improved enforcement. About a tenth, or 209, of the city’s more than 2,140 shooting victims this year are under the age of 18. That number was 197 on this day in the previous year.
Similar safety-focused curfews for kids in other places have been found to be unsuccessful, largely because they don’t serve as a significant deterrent for persons who are prepared to conduct much more serious infractions. The city experienced an increase in gunshots after the new curfew was established, as Washington, D.C. recently tried to enact a comparable ordinance.
Milius, a student at Northeast High, remembered a day over the summer when organizing a BSA event was difficult. The skate parks were supposed to host a skate night, she said. Many of the students were unaware of our curfew when we were discussing it and choosing a date.
As long as an adult was present, the event that the student group had in mind would have likely been permitted to continue after curfew. As long as adults are present to declare responsibility for a specific minor, Philly’s regulation exempts participation in “official school, religious, or other recreational” events. Additional exclusions include:
- accompanying a parent, guardian, or custodian
- travelling to or from work
- being in a car engaged in interstate traffic
- Managing an emergency
- If the neighbour has not called the police, on the sidewalk outside of one’s home.
- Using one’s First Amendment rights to protest or gather in a demonstration
- The minor in question is not punished if they are homeless.
One of the exceptions to the curfew is the ability for minors to run errands for a parent or guardian. Tateyanna Nunes, a junior at Girls’ High and an Eastwick resident, expressed uncertainty about how that would actually transpire.
She noticed that people can treat you differently based on preconceived narratives. Before you had a chance to tell your side of the story, she continued, “Most of the time people simply make up their own stories and conclude that’s what you are.” I doubt that our stories would be taken seriously if we were to be stopped one night.
She claimed to have observed other laws being applied inconsistently. Nunes said, “I understand what they’re attempting to accomplish with the exceptions, but I just feel like it’s very unlikely that the exceptions will be held to a fair standard.” “I think that’s why (the curfew) won’t be able to change anything,” the speaker said.
Lee, a resident of Northeast Philadelphia, said a citywide curfew might be less effective than something more focused. “I feel like if there were more resources allocated to those afflicted communities, maybe you wouldn’t see such a rise of, it’s not even just teens anymore, it’s more like tweens, starting to commit these violent crimes,” the speaker said.
Sor, a student in Philadelphia’s K–12 system who will graduate in a few months, believes that young people should have a bigger voice in politics and that city leaders should solicit their opinions more frequently.
In order to not only support us psychologically through this growing issue, but also to actually assist us in resolving it, Sor said, “We need help to counsel and aid students.” “I think the students are the ones who hold the key to the solution,”
Any controversial provision could encounter a difficult vote given the current composition of Council. Nine votes, or a majority of the 17 Council seats, are needed for legislation to pass.
In addition, Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson has been absent from meetings for the past two weeks as he awaits trial on federal corruption charges, leaving four seats vacant as a result of a wave of resignations by members running for mayor. Because of this, legislation could be defeated with just four “no” votes until seats are filled following a special election next month.
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