In Parenting Help

When Should I set a Curfew?


Curfews have around for thousands of years and work to help maintain control over a group of people by limiting their movement around public areas after a certain time at night. Having a curfew in place, means that you are not able to be outside in a public area, such as a road, park, parking lot, trail or building after a certain time. In most cases, curfews are during the overnight hours.

Though curfews can be set by the government, the first thing many of us think about when we hear the word “curfew” is in reference to minors. That is because most of us have had a curfew placed upon us when we were young. Not many have experienced curfew hours as an adult.

What is a curfew?

There are many different ways to define curfew, including what it means for minors and teenage drivers. There is also a legal curfew definition that is used when regulating and enforcing local and state curfew laws. The curfew meaning refers to a time when people are to remain indoors and is generally between specified hours. Most of the time curfews are set typically at night.

Curfew laws

Laws that prohibit and/or limit a citizen’s right to be out in public during certain times of the day are known as curfew laws. These laws are passed to help maintain order in public areas and increase the safety of both the public and government workers. Most laws are designed for those under the age of 18, but they have been enforced during certain times of natural disaster and civil disturbances.

Basically, these laws make it illegal to be out in public areas between certain hours of the day. Most curfew laws limit being in a public area at night and it is common to see curfews from the evening through sunrise.

Different types of curfews

The first thing most people think about when you say the word “curfew” is curfew for minors. However, there are so many other types of curfews that can be violated if one does not know the different laws associated with being out when you are not supposed to be.

One example of a curfew that is not just for minors, is an order by public authorities or by the military that is occupying an area. This is when a curfew is set to prevent area residents from looting, causing trouble or conducting other illegal and dangerous acts.

Other types of curfews include:

  • Requirements for staying at a hostel
  • Athletes are told when to be in their room or home the night before a big game
  • Night flying restrictions to prevent aircraft noise in residential areas

Curfew for minors

When referring to minors, a curfew is sometime a legal guardian puts a time on when the child has to be back home. Generally the curfew cut off for a minor is at night just before bed time. Curfew times depend on a variety of different factors including age, grades, community, work, after school activities, special events, amount of homework and preference of the parents.

Some communities have laws which regulate curfew times and what the penalties are for violating curfew. For example, Temulca Municipal Code  states “every minor who is present in or upon any public or private street, road, drive, alley or trail; any public or community park or recreation area; any public ground, place or building; or any vacant lot or abandoned or vacant building between the hours of ten p.m. and the time of sunrise the following day is guilty of an infraction.”

This is unless the minor meets certain requirements, such as coming home from work, school activity, emergencies or is with a legal guardian. Thus, the reason why there are different curfews for teenagers than minors who are unable to drive. In some cases, the teenager is allowed to be out past the teenage curfew law time if he or she is out running an errand under the parent’s instruction.

What is the curfew for minors?

Curfew times vary from state to state and parent to parent. However, the most common time is between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. For example, curfew times for those under the age of 13 in Juneau are between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Since these curfew times are for those under the age of 13, it leaves the question unanswered about the curfew time for teenagers. What is the curfew times for teenagers? Because teenagers are older and have more things to do and in some cases, more responsibilities, curfew hours set in most areas are a little bit longer. Let’s use Juneau as an example.

In Juneau, those between the ages of 14 and 17 cannot be out in public between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and between midnight and 5 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Most other municipalities across the country have similar rules, laws and regulations regarding the time for a minor’s curfew.

Because the age of 17 is so close to being an adult, a lot of parents find themselves asking “ What is the curfew for 17 year olds?” That all depends upon the individual teen and their responsibilities to school, community and family. There are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics below to help set a curfew.

Punishments for violating

The best way to not violate a curfew is to know the answer to the following question: “ What time is curfew? ” This is one of the most important things for teenagers to know because violating curfew can bring a harsher punishment than being grounded by your parents.

Violating juvenile curfew laws has different punishments based on the different jurisdictions. Most curfew violations carry the following punishments:

  • Fines
  • Community service
  • Restriction of driver’s license privileges
  • Detention in jail or juvenile hall

Fines and punishments may increase with each additional violation.

Why have a curfew?

We have seen why some communities enforce curfew laws, but now let’s take a look at why it is important for parents to set curfews for their children.

The main reason why parents set curfews for their children is to protect them. Though teens may feel this is an unfair limitation placed on their rights, setting a time when the teen needs to be home is the best way to keep them safe. A curfew set by a parent, ensures the teen returns home before the municipality curfew time begins, reducing the chance of the teen facing criminal charges for curfew violations. It also gives the parent peace-of-mind knowing that their teen is home safe at night, a time when they might fall victim to various crimes while in dark public areas.

Curfews also teach children responsibility. If the teen knows they have to be home at a certain time, it is their responsibility to be there at that time. This teaches them how to be where they are supposed to be and when they are supposed to be there. Something that will stick with them as an adult.

What is a good curfew for minors?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, curfew times vary depending upon the child, the parents and the household. Here are some things to consider when setting your teen’s curfew time:

  • What is the maturity and responsibility levels of the teen?
  • Has the teen violated curfew in the past? If so, how often?
  • What activities is the teen involved in outside of the home?
  • If the teen is attending a special event, game or other activity, when does it end and how long does it take them to get home?
  • How much sleep does your teen need?
  • How much homework does your teen have?
  • Are your teen’s grades good?

Depending upon the answers to the above listed questions, it might be best to sit down with your teen and discuss his or her curfew options. Make a list of options and determine what works best for both you, the parent and your teen.

As you can see, there are many different types of curfews and reasons why we have community curfew laws and parents to set them. All curfews, even those enforced by the government, are designed to protect individuals and public property from harm. And yes, even when a parent says “Be home by midnight,” it is because that parent is thinking of the welfare of the minor and their safety.

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