The implementation of curfew is based on its perceived viability as a deterrent to delinquency (Bilchik, 1996). The implement of curfews can be traced as far back to the reign of Alfred the Great in England when it was used to curb insurrection among the feudal states and monitor Danish and Celtic infiltrations (Ruefle & Reynolds, 1995). Curfews aim not only to prevent actual crimes but also to limit the exposure of the most susceptible or vulnerable against the crime.
According to Adams (2003), one of the reasons why curfews are still popular today is because of the strength of popular belief in its effectiveness in averting crime and delinquency (158-159). Curfews have always been in place in various states, a range of levels and because of different motivation in the United States. This method of control and regulation became popular in the in the 1990’s for minors as a reaction to the increase in juvenile delinquencies that were linked to drug and/or alcohol abuse and gang related activities (Bilchik, 1996).
Today, the implementation of juvenile curfews is again being turned to address the increase of the incidence among and against minors. However, there still exist very few studies or wide-scale evaluations regarding the actual effectiveness of curfews (Adams, 2003). Their implementation has fired debates regarding the lack of data regarding the actual effectiveness of apply curfews. It has raised issues on the constitutionality of implementing the said measures (Budd, 1999).
Some existing implementers are now taking time to review related ordinances to determine the practicability of their actions (Brown & Santana, 1998). These reservations though have not stilled the status of curfews as a means to control crime particular among minors. The implementation of curfew among minors seeks to rationalize itself with Hirschi’s social control theory: a theory that has proven its worth not only in governance but in other fields of administration as well (Welch, 1998).
Curfews are also programmed to act as a safeguard in events where are not able to manage their children (Snieckute, 2004). Hirschi`s Social Control Theory Hirschi`s Social Control Theory or Social Bonding Theory attempts to establish the link of an individual’s predisposition to committing crimes in relation with his level of involvement to the factors that makes a society and to society itself. This theory “proposes that people's relationships, commitments, values, norms, and beliefs encourage them not to break the law” (“Social Control Theory”, 2006)
To a high degree, social control theory when applied to crime and punishment tries to explain delinquency rather that actual crimes (“Travis Hirschi's Social Bond Theory’, 2000). This is one of the reasons why it has been considered a significant factor of the logic on implanting juvenile curfews. The science of criminology utilizes this theory of Hirschi through using social rules to instill behaviors that deter the development of criminal and delinquent tendencies or any type of anti-social behavior (“Social Control Theory”, 2006).
The social control theory was four types of control: direct, indirect, internal and by satisfying a necessity (Welch, 1998). Accordingly, following Functionalist line of reasoning, the implementation of juvenile curfews control juvenile delinquency in parallel: directly by the applying a sanction for the violation of the curfew; indirectly by implying guilt when one violates the curfew; internally by including the violator’s family’s participation and even sanctioning; and by offering benefits to non-violators.
The central assumption of the social control theory is that “if moral codes are internalized and individuals are tied into, and have a stake in their wider community, they will voluntarily limit their propensity to commit deviant acts” (“Social Control Theory”, 2006). This manner of thinking is in line with social theories such as right realism, neo-classical and positivism. These theories are all founded on Hobbes suppositions that all a person’s selected option is inhibited by embedded social contracts.
Thusly, “morality is created in the construction of social order, assigning costs and consequences to certain choices and defining some as evil, immoral and/or illegal” (“Social Control Theory”, 2006). However, these perspectives do not factor in motivational issues and that people’s act according to a set of acts allowed through the process of social learning and socialization (“Social learning theory”, 2006).
In the context of the imposition of juvenile curfews, the curfews act as the vehicle for the construction of the social order that builds the values that are aimed to make juvenile indisposed to criminal or delinquent acts. It associates staying out late as something that is not acceptable to society’s standards that can lead to punishment (Welch, 1998).