Members of My Brother’s Keepers, a grassroots anti-violence organization, presented a proposal to City officials for an earlier curfew to be set city-wide for juveniles. According to officials with the nonprofit, an earlier curfew ordinance could keep young people in the community from being involved in violent activity.
As of now, a curfew exists between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. for those under 18. My Brother’s Keepers would like to see that curfew set earlier, between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Tim Collier, founder of My Brother’s Keepers, told city officials about the risks associated with a late curfew, as well as the benefits associated with establishing an earlier curfew for children.
“While having a curfew may seem unfair and unreasonable to some, many fail to realize that curfews can be beneficial to the overall well-being of teens,” he said. “Curfews have many advantages, which include helping kids stay out of trouble, better time management, less sleep deprivation and increased focus in school, to name a few.”
Mayor Tom Watson told Collier he and his staff would look into the issue and discuss the potential for an earlier curfew, but he didn’t confirm anything at Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting.
Collier also pointed out the high-risk behaviors associated with teens staying out too late, including a higher likelihood of being present for or involved in violent and illegal activities.
“Many high-risk behaviors occur later in the evenings and when parental supervision is not present,” he said. “When a curfew is enforced consistently, there is an assurance that teens will be in safer environments.”
Family support could increase with the establishment of an earlier curfew, Collier said.
“Curfews help communities work to create a specific time each night when families can come together and discuss their day,” he said. “They are a way to reinforce the boundaries that parents set in the home, but they still allow the independent spirit of teenagers as they work to discover who they are as a person.”
While Collier said it is up to the parents to keep their children grounded when a child has a lack of parental supervision or has a parent who works late hours, a curfew enforced by Owensboro Police Department could help.
OPD Police Chief Art Ealum previously said establishing an earlier curfew would be a complicated process. One of the biggest issues with the curfew, regardless of the time it’s set at, is that the juveniles aren’t the ones who get charged with the fine for breaking it.
“I was not involved in that ordinance [of setting a 1 a.m. curfew] and none of our current commissioners were,” he said. “The trouble with that is, the person who gets charged is not the juvenile — it’s the parent. That means that $147.50 or whatever court costs it is–you could get hit multiple times with that if you’ve got a problem child.”
Juveniles who get picked up for breaking curfew must be picked up by their parents. The curfew is also difficult to enforce, Ealum said, because there are so many moving parts that few people understand.
“Be careful what you wish for,” he said. “If we do it, and the commissioners bless that request, you’ve got to give us support because the parents who couldn’t control their kids will come to the City Commission meeting and complain because they got all these tickets. This isn’t me guessing what’s going to happen — we’ve all lived through it.”