Curfew Laws Aim To Keep Kids Off Streets Late at Night

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Curfew Laws Aim To Keep Kids Off Streets Late at Night

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A number of cities and towns in Delaware have curfew laws aimed at keeping kids off the streets

and out of public places late at night, though some law enforcement officials say it's difficult to determine how effective the policies are.

In cities like Dover, Harrington, and Milford, as well as many others across Delaware, curfew laws generally prohibit many minors---with some exceptions---from being out in public late at night.

John Rolley, a grandfather of four from Dover, said he like the idea of a curfew law because he doesn't think unsupervised kids or teenagers wandering outside can be up to anything good after a certain hour.

"Not when they're on the streets alone. You don't know what they're doing," he said.

Dover's curfew applies to minors under the age of 17 and ranges from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., depending on the day of the week and whether school is in session.

But Dover Cpl. Mark Hoffman said the city has yet to issue a single citation, a penalty for repeat curfew violations, since the law was adopted in 2012.

"When it comes to curfew violations, if we can simply instruct a child to go home and they comply, then the matter's resolved," he said.

Dover Councilman Roy Sudler said the law was intended to be reviewed periodically and wants to revisit the ordnance because many parents, organizations, and businesses that could be subject to fines under the law aren't even aware it exists.

"If they don't know, then they really can't help us enforce the code? Who do we hold accountable for that?" he said.

Harrington's curfew law applies to minors younger than 17 years old and goes into effect after 10 p.m.

Although the law has not resulted in any citations since it went into effect last year, Chief Norman Barlow said it's a valuable tool in keeping kids from getting caught up in illicit activities.

"If we can put something on the books and honestly do a little bit for them and protect them, then I'm for it," he said.

No matter what the law says, some people like John Robinson of Smyrna believe responsible parenting is important when it comes to curfews.

"It should be up to the parents, I would say," he said. "[They should] make sure their kids are doing what they're supposed to."