UNITED STATES: Children hit with curfews as Halloween looms

As party-goers put the finishing touches to their Halloween preparations, children in the United States, and across the Western world where the 31 October festival is celebrated, are facing the prospect of prison for breaching strict curfews during the celebrations.

Dozens, if not hundreds, of towns across the country are enforcing the curfews, which many NGOs and activists believe breach the rights of children.

In Ploughkeepsie, New York state, the curfew begins at 7pm Thursday. Children will not be allowed back out until 6am Friday morning, with the curfew repeated on Friday and Saturday nights.

Those convicted of curfew violations can be fined up to $250 or sentenced to up to 15 days in jail. Read the news article here   

Meanwhile, in Belleville, Illinois, US, council members unanimously passed a resolution restricting anyone over the age of 12 from trick-or-treating (the custom, for children, of going from house to house, dressed in costumes, asking for treats).

Belleville is also limiting "door-to-door" trick- or-treating to the hours of 5pm to 8:30 pm on Halloween night. The measure prohibits anyone over the age of 12 from wearing masks in public on Halloween. Police will handle age and curfew violations with a "warn and release" method. Read this story here

Elsewhere, a curfew has been imposed in Miramichi, Canada, which some parents have objected to here  

Despite the prevalence of curfews, there is a growing consensus that such ordinances demonise children, are ineffective, and, in the case of the US, are unconstitutional. 

Indeed, Jordan C. Budd, Managing Attorney of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of San Diego and Imperial Counties in California, argues that: "They likely have the greatest impact on the activities of those youths who are least likely to commit crimes, and bar them from engaging in a variety of socially productive activities.

"To secure constitutional sanction for this sweeping law enforcement practice, courts have excluded minors from the full reach of the Constitution and have held that the infringement of their rights is subject to less demanding scrutiny than the impairment of the rights of adults. We pay a very high price for the illusory sense of safety that juvenile curfews provide." For his full article, visit here

The National Youth Rights Association (NYRA) defends the civil and human rights of young people, and is concerned with repealing government curfews. Visit their website: http://www.youthrights.org/

Finally, CRIN is preparing and planning a 'discrimination' microsite, which will examine the issue across the breadth of child rights violations - in particular the subject of age discrimination. We are planning to launch early next year.  

 

 

Owner: Patrick Geary/CRIN

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