The topic of teenager curfews is usually a controversial one. Parents impose curfews to protect their teens, and teens often feel this is an unfair limitation placed upon them. Curfews imposed by state and local governments are even more controversial because it is not only teenagers who disagree with these laws, but many adults as well.
It's a Traditional Rite of Passage
Teenager curfews have been around for centuries as the adult population has tried to keep adolescents safe. Most adults can remember being annoyed when hearing their parents tell them they had to be home at a particular time. Many adults also experienced being "grounded for life" for violating a curfew. Adhering to a curfew is one of the first ways many people learned to handle the responsibilities that go along with freedom.
Why Teenager Curfews Are Necessary
Parents have many motivations for imposing curfews on teenagers. The first one is because they care for their teen and want them to be safe. Parents have a responsibility to their children both morally and legally to keep them safe and monitor their activities. It is also a matter of social courtesy to know when to expect a teenager to be home. Parents need to know when their child is coming home so that they can get some sleep.
Often, it is not the behavior of the teenager that is of concern to a parent, but the behavior of other people and how it will impact them. For example, driving home at 11pm is usually much safer than driving home at 2am when the bars have closed and the instance of people driving under the influence increases. Drunk drivers create a life-threatening hazard as they try to make their way home. A curfew is also a way for a teen to gracefully get out of an unsafe or unpleasant situation. Sometimes, it is just nice to have a reason to leave. It is also important for a parent to know when to expect their teenager to come home. If a parent is not expecting their child home at a particular time, they have no way of knowing if their child is in trouble or needs help. It is a good idea for all family members to tell someone where they are going and what time they will be home. This eliminates worry and increases safety.
Growing up is a process. Following social rules is an important part of that process. The teen years are the time when a person is becoming a young adult who needs and should have freedom to learn about life. Creating a safe environment to do this learning is a tough job. Teens need to be aware of natural consequences for not following rules as well as the consequences imposed by parents. Losing phone and computer privileges are much less damaging than spending time in jail. It takes time to learn a concept and put it into practice, but having a stable environment to learn in will allow a teenager to become a responsible young adult.
It's the Law
One of the reasons for imposing a teenager curfew is because of laws concerning curfews in some communities. Often curfew violations are quite expensive and time consuming. Parents are held responsible for their child's behavior, and have to appear in court, pay heavy fines, and sometimes attend classes or perform community service along with their teen. The efficacy of a curfew in crime prevention is the topic of debate at many city council meetings, but if the law is in place it will be enforced.
A Spoonful of Sugar
A parent should help their teen understand why the curfew is in place, and be clear about what the penalty for breaking curfew will be. Teens should be allowed to negotiate their curfews for different activities and understand that they are earning their independence by being trustworthy and mature. By rewarding responsible behavior, a parent will encounter less resistance to enforcing rules. No teen is going turn cartwheels when a curfew is imposed, but understanding the rules will make them easier to follow.
There are many words or phrases that teens dread hearing from their parents; one of these words is “curfew.” Many teens see the adolescent years as a time to break away from their family and parents, and experience more freedom in certain aspects of their lives. Having a curfew seems unfair and unreasonable, but what many teens fail to realize is that curfews are actually beneficial to their overall well-being.
Curfews have many advantages that teenagers might not realize; these advantages include staying out of trouble, better time management, less sleep deprivation, and increased focus in school. When following curfews, teens tend to stay out of trouble more because criminal activity or high-risk behavior is more likely to occur later in the evening when parental supervision is not present. Curfews help teens to become used to setting a schedule which they routinely follow, and become able to develop important time management skills which they will carry out into adulthood. Being able to manage time effectively is useful in a variety of situations including school, work, and personal relationships. Setting curfews also help teens to be able to get to sleep at a decent time, which leads to subsequent focus and wakefulness in school, this could ultimately even lead to better grades.
It is important to note when exceptions to curfews should be acceptable. For example, if you are out studying, working, volunteering, or participating in an extracurricular activity, it would probably be reasonable to ask your parents to extend your curfew for these activities. However, staying out till after midnight to see a concert, movie, or hang out with friends would probably not count as an activity which deserves a curfew extension. When negotiating such time extensions with your parents, it is important to be reasonable and realize that each situation should be weighed differently when considering the activity you want to participate in, and the amount of time you want your curfew to be extended to.
Ultimately, curfews are reasonable guidelines and should be followed. It is important to maintain respect for your parents and the rules they set throughout your adolescent years. While it may seem unfair or unreasonable at the time, you will eventually realize how beneficial such rules were and will thank your parents for looking out for your well-being. So next time you are heading out the door in the evening and your parents remind you of your curfew, instead of rolling your eyes, shrugging your shoulders, or complaining, recognize that they are looking out for you and thank them.
Jenna Welsh is alocal high school student