Think seriously about curfew

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By The Staff

Years ago a television anchor would say, "It's 10:30 p.m. Do you know where your children are?" We have another question. What is a 13-year-old girl doing out on the streets at 3 a.m.?

There she was, on a Heath Springs street, with seven other young people, said Vincent Webb, a Lancaster County Sheriff's deputy. Webb's job is to police the town of Heath Springs.

Unless they are committing a crime there is nothing illegal about youngsters being out that time at night.

Webb wants to change that. Recently, he asked the Heath Springs Town Council to implement a late-night curfew for those 16 and younger.

"I would like to see a curfew in place where I can do a little bit more," Webb told council.

Webb said he would like to see a curfew similar to the city of Lancaster's. The city's curfew restricts anyone 16 and younger from being out without adult supervision from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. weekdays and midnight and 6 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays during school months. During non-school months, the curfew starts at midnight and runs to 6 a.m.

The town of Kershaw's curfew for unsupervised youth 16 and younger is from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays during school months.

Penalties include taking the youngster home or to the police station where the parents or guardians are called to pick up the child up on first offense.

Parents of a youngster caught breaking the curfew a second time could be fined $500.

Heath Springs Mayor Ann Taylor and councilman Mark Bridges said council would study the Kershaw and Lancaster ordinances and try to have a recommendation at the February meeting.

A curfew is not meant to punish young people. Granted, young people need supervised places to socialize. Sadly, there are not that many opportunities here.

But again, what is a 13-year-old girl doing out on the streets of Heath Springs at 3 a.m.?

Oh course the logical question is where are her parents or guardians?

If parents or guardians could answer the news anchor's question there would be no need for a curfew. But since that is not the case, a curfew is needed.

A curfew could help reduce juvenile crime, but more importantly it could help keep young people from becoming victims of crime.

With people 16 or younger, "nothing good ever happens past midnight," Bridges said.

We agree.