As the parent of a teen, you've probably battled it out about an appropriate curfew at least a couple of times. Your teen likely feels that a later curfew is fine, while you rest easier when he comes home safe and sound before it gets too late. Teens who have a late curfew or none at all might face more dangerous situations and engage in more risky behaviors than teens who get home at a reasonable hour. Understanding the effects of a curfew can help you and your teen find a time that works for both of you.
While your teen isn't always at an increased risk of engaging in criminal activity late at night, her risk of being exposed to crime or becoming a victim of it increases, according to the City Mayors website. Teen curfews help control gang activity by reducing the opportunities for members to gather, which helps cut down on violent and drug-related crimes associated with gangs, according to the United States Conference of Mayors in a 1997 study. Anytime your teen is out when crimes are committed ups her chances of being exposed to it. This includes burglary, theft and vandalism. A curfew gets her home where she's safe and keeps her away from other teens doing illegal things.
Drugs and Alcohol
It's true that your teen could be hurt any time, but being out at night might make the odds a bit higher. More fatal teen car accidents occur at night with18 percent of daytime fatalities and 54 percent at nighttime ones being linked to alcohol, according to a 2009 Forbes study reported in Psychology Today. Night is when many teens experiment with drugs and alcohol, which increases their risk of being hurt or killed if they have a late curfew or don't have one at all. Even if they don't drive or accept a ride from a friend, a teen could be hit by a car, attacked or be seriously hurt walking or running if he's under the influence of drugs or alcohol and doesn't have his wits about him.
Lack of Sleep
It might not matter too much on weekends when your teen doesn't have to get up early the next morning, but missing out on sleep during the school week can have a negative impact on your teen. Without enough sleep, she might find it difficult to concentrate in the classroom, lack the energy to get enough exercise and be moody and upset during the day. Most teens need about nine hours of sleep each night, according to HealthyChildren.org, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. If your teen's curfew is keeping her from getting enough shut-eye, it can benefit her greatly to move it up a bit.
Setting a Curfew
It can be tough for many parents to balance their teen's need for freedom and independence with keeping him safe at home during the wee hours of the night. Rather than setting a strict time curfew, the Healthy Children website suggests working with your teen based on where he'll be. For example, if he's on a bike ride, getting home before it's dark might be appropriate, but if he's at a concert or festival, a later curfew might work better. Many cities have teen curfew laws, so sticking to the legal time when teens must be home takes the guesswork and the arguments out of setting a curfew.
- Journalist's Resource: Impact of Juvenile Curfew Laws on Arrests of Youth and Adults
- The United States Conference of Mayors: A Status Report on Youth Curfews in America's Cities
- City Mayors: Youth Curfews Popular with American Cities But Effectiveness and Legality are Questioned
- Healthy Children: Curfews and Bedtimes for Teens
- Brigham Young University: Handling Curfews
- Psychology Today: Adolescence and Curfew