[Letters] Curfews and our teens

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[Letters] Curfews and our teens

When I was a middle school student, I had to return home by 8 p.m. After taking a shower, I enjoyed dinner at home with my family. While waiting for the daily TV drama, I helped my mother wash the dishes and then we had an enjoyable conversation over delicious dessert and hot chocolate. After the drama finished, I started my homework. Whenever I had a difficult assignment, my father always tried to help or encourage me. Having finished all my tasks, I said “good night” to my parents and slept contentedly.

This seems like a normal story, but it is only possible when parents set curfews.

I believe in curfews not only because teenagers are vulnerable to committing crimes, but also because it is necessary for their own safety. When teenagers are together at night, they are easily exposed to smoking, drinking or drugs. Teenagers desperately want to pretend they are adults. The problem is serious crimes more often occur at night.

Phoenix, Arizona, passed a 10 p.m. weekday youth curfew law in 1993. Police say that, as a result, violent crimes committed by Phoenix youths dropped 10 percent during the first six months of the curfew. This shows that curfews are closely related to the youth crime rates. On the other hand, some say curfews are not necessary since the youth crime rate isn’t as high and serious as the adult crime rate. However, without curfews, children can become victims of adult crime.

Curfews can also help to improve relationships between parents and their children. Teens need to spend as much time as possible with their parents not only for their education but also for their mental and emotional stability. Studies show that if children don’t spend a lot of time with their parents when they are young, most of them will have a negative attitude about anything they encounter when they grow up.

Moreover, most families are more likely to have conversations at night. During the day, parents probably can’t spend time to communicate or do activities with their children due to work, and children have to go to school. Curfews can increase the time families spend together.

Of course, setting boundaries makes children feel uncomfortable, and may initially cause arguments. Even if children misunderstand and feel that their parents don’t trust them, they will feel comfortable in the future.

Parents also have to consider that curfews are necessary for a teenager’s general lifestyle. According to some articles, at least eight to nine hours of sleep is needed for teens. If they are out until midnight or later, they lose valuable hours to sleep, which will have a harmful effect on their growth. Furthermore, it will affect their studying in school. If they are out till late at night and go to school the next day, they surely can’t concentrate on their classes because they feel tired and fall asleep during their classes.

What is worse, especially for teens, is smoking, drinking or taking drugs, which usually happens at night. These bad habits are absolutely harmful for their health and may direct them to think and act negatively. Also, harmful acts such as smoking or taking drugs include some form of toxicity. If parents don’t prevent children from experiencing these addictive things in advance, they will never stop it later.

Some people argue that a teenager’s freedom is as important as an adult’s right to freedom, or that setting curfews will eventually result in infringing upon their freedom of choice. However, if parents let their children roam free outside at night, they will ruin their children.

Parents should not feel guilty about setting curfews as teenagers’ freedom should be somewhat restricted for their own benefits.

Some parents regret what could have done only after their children are already in danger. It is time to stop this vicious cycle. For the benefit of our children, youth curfews are sorely needed.

Kim Min-jung,

Dongguk University student
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