Curfew cage

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By Giano M. Libot

I have issues

Thursday, May 29, 2014


“YOUTH curfews help keep our children out of harm’s way. They give parents a tool to impart discipline, respect, and rules at an awkward and difficult time in children’s lives.”

No that was not Teddy Sabuga-a, though it might have made no difference if it was him. This was Bill Clinton in 1996 addressing church goers in New Orleans on the pressing issue of growing crime on the streets.

The Cagayan de Oro peace, development and security council (CPDSC) resolution proposing a curfew in the city for minors 15 and below is a peculiar case of a good but incomplete solution. This is not to say there is such a thing as a virtually complete solution, but there are holistic approaches to a situation that need more careful study.

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Clinton like Sabuga-a is not ill-intentioned about curfews, in general there have been numerous studies that link policies like this to proven substantial decrease to risk of crimes in areas. There is no secret formula to this, when children are at home, they largely safer and less prone to risk being victims or being culprits of crime itself.

In the 1990’s in the United States, a wave of curfew policies were a popular strategy in combating delinquency amongst the youth, though there is data which I hope the city council went over regarding the nature of youth crimes in the city, it’s been largely proven that at the right context these laws of regulating youth behavior especially at night have been largely effective.

Implementation as one of the facets of policy seems to come into question regarding curfew laws, how does a law enforcer distinguish between ages close to the bracket of the prescribed age group? There could be potential spillover effects to the effectiveness of actually rounding up the right “people”, a call perhaps for city council to come out clearer with the guidelines of any policy.

There are also several options that the city council can do to cut-across the board a larger problem growing the city streets, homeless people and street children. Perhaps this policy can be morphed into a broad campaign against anyone loitering the streets, maybe that seems a much larger issue to press on and spend resources both human and structural.

But, lastly perhaps putting the parents into the equations. While it is true that parental responsibility seems to be the most policy free solution, we have to admit that parenting isn’t entirely a universal trait. And while parents maybe good intentioned often, putting in a law that gives teeth to their wishes can compel even the most hardened of rebel children, and could give them added pressure when necessary.

The fear in a curfew law is all natural, as someone who was once a 15 year old that may have spent a night or two (or three?) beyond 10’oclock I know that this policy grips freedom tight, but we live in different times. Perhaps our jails are not the best of situations to stay in, but that just means even those outside the curfew violators deserve better jails too, until then it serves as a grim reminder.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 29, 2014.

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