Curfew law will make Baltimore safer for youths [Letter]

Councilman Brandon M. Scott, right, looks on as a group of children play a pick-up game of football around 10:45 p.m. on a Friday in the Belair-Edison neighborhood.

Next month, the Baltimore City Council is set to approve a new curfew which will call for youth under 14 to be off the street by 9 p.m. and 14- to 17-year-olds to be indoors by 11 p.m. ("Council approves tough new curfew for city youths," May 12).

The reality is that there are 5- and 6-year-olds wandering the streets of Baltimore. Some parents have their young adolescent children making errands to corner stores at 2 a.m., which isn't safe. What is a young person under the age of 14 doing outside after 9 p.m. without a parent or guardian?


The daytime curfew prohibits minors under the age of 16 from being in public establishments between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the minor is required by law to be in school.

This should not be viewed as another opportunity for the government to hike fines. Many Baltimore families cannot afford one fine, much less multiple $500 fines. There is specific provision in the legislation that would allow for the fine to be waived if parents and children attend counseling sessions provided by the city.


I believe the legislation is partially designed to find the root causes of why some young people are not in school or at home. Sometimes there are unfortunate events that have occurred in a child's life that prevent him or her from being home or going to school. If that is the case the child needs to be connected to services that will assist him or her with getting a quality education and not being in the streets.

I admire the Youth Connection Centers idea that had been proposed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. The idea has been perceived as 24-hour year-around "curfew centers." These are not curfew centers in the general sense of the word. They will be centers that connect youth and families to services that will assist them.

Similar ideas and legislation have been effective in successfully preventing crime in other cities.

Too many times have I heard from other teenagers whose relatives and friends have been hurt or killed. People are hurting. Citizens need something that would help them have more peace of mind.

City officials' priorities are to protect residents. Something has to be done because children are committing crimes and dying on the streets of Baltimore. Some of these unfortunate events can possibly be prevented if they are safe in school or in their homes.

Cody L. Dorsey, Baltimore

The writer is chairman of the Baltimore City Youth Commission and student commissioner on the Baltimore City School Board.



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