Innocent until proven guilty – not if you’re a kid outside on a school day

In a story that’s even reached the Web pages of the children’s television station Nickelodeon, the Dallas City Council voted to extend the nighttime child curfew, and after hours of debate, postponed voting on the proposed daytime curfew until May 13.

These curfews will do homeowners no good, and only breed contempt for cops with the city’s youth.

The curfews take away the rights of kids who very well have a reason to be on the streets. Sure, there are exemptions for home-schooled kids, kids going to the doctor or work, but if the daytime curfew passes, those kids will be forced to prove they’re not up to no good, with cops given free reign to make teens guilty until proven innocent.
As written, the daytime curfew applies only during school days. But many public and private school calendars don’t coincide. As a former private school student, there were many days my classmates and I had off that public school kids didn’t, and vice versa.

Are we going to expect cops to keep school calendars in their squad car? That’s never going to happen.

Both curfews take away the rights of parents. If I think my teen should be out after midnight on the weekends, that’s my choice, and a decision I can make on my own, within my family. I don’t need the city council legislating parenting.

In a free society, you don’t need a reason to make something legal, you need a reason to make it illegal – and Dallas leaders haven’t convinced me there’s a legitimate reason to have these curfews in place.

As somebody whose had both my car stolen and my broken into, the later occurring twice in one week, I get that there are some kids who play hooky and do stuff they’re not supposed to be doing. But I don’t believe for one minute that a kid that wants to skip school and break into my house is going to think twice about it because now there’s a daytime curfew, and I don’t believe that cops are going to be able to stop break-ins because of it.

With all the other issues Dallas Police have, we’re not going to see any earth-shattering roundups of truant kids. Your average beat cop is doing his best to answer as many 911 calls during his shift, and isn’t out there looking for kids walking the streets.

Let’s not make our kids criminals before they’ve even done anything wrong.


WANT MORE?
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Oak Cliff.