Civil Liberties Essay

Curfew bylaws within specific towns should not, by any means necessary, be implemented on a basis of one's age. The teenage curfew bylaw, as passed by town council, violates the basic fundamental freedoms and equality rights of youth provided by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Though teenagers are still minors, and not legally considered adults, they are still citizens of Canada and are not exempt from being able to have their Charter rights violated. Prohibiting a young person to be outside their home after a restricted time period is treating that person differently on a basis of age, rather then merit.

This is a clear and blatant form of discrimination. Imposing specific time curfews on youth is an act of ageism, prejudice against young people. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms prohibits all types of discrimination, including ageism. The prohibition of discrimination is clearly outlined in Section 15. (1) of the Charter. It states that: "Every individual is equal before and under law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination… based on…

age. " As well, teenage curfew bylaws exclude youth and prevent them from participating in any sort of activity after a certain time because of their age. This form of discrimination is also prohibited and is outlined in Section 15. (2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It states that: "Subsection (1) does not [exclude] any program or activity that has as its object of [betterment] of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups that are disadvantaged because of… age.

" In both subsection (1) and (2) of Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, discrimination based on age and the exclusion of an activity, such as being outside after a certain time, because of age is considered an incriminating offence. Imposing curfew only on youth directly violates the children's chartered rights, and is therefore considered unconstitutional and prohibits its implementation. It is unjustifiable to persecute and punish all youth as if they were criminals simply because of the actions of a minority within their demographic area.

Teenage curfew bylaws stereotype all youth as criminals, as they punish law-abiding teenagers more than they punish the actual criminals. In doing so, this law assumes all teenagers to be guilty of crimes before these crimes have even been committed. This is a violation of section 11 of the Charter, which states that everyone is to be "presumed innocent until proven guilty". This bylaw also violates an abundance of other Charter rights including the right not to be subject to unreasonable search or seizure (section 8) as well as the fundamental freedoms of peaceful assembly and freedom of association (section 2(c),(d)).

Teenage curfew bylaws have been implemented in an attempt to significantly reduce youth crime rates. It is the belief of the law makers in this specific town council that youth crime occurs primarily during the late hours of the night and early hours of the morning. It is reasonable to assume then, that in clearing youth off the streets during this time period, it will significantly decrease the growing "teen crime wave" in this specific town.

Sadly this is not the case, as other North American towns who have implemented similar teenage curfews have only experienced increases in youth crime rates (Benton, 1999, p. 89). This increase in youth crime rates is a result of when the regular law-abiding youth citizens knowingly break their restricted curfews and are considered criminals. It is unfair to label all obedient, honest, and respectable teens as criminals simply because they violate one insignificant, discriminatory, and unconstitutional town bylaw.

As well, it is common for many youth criminals to possess counterfeit identification that makes them appear older. These illegal pieces of identification would allow them to remain on the streets past curfew hours and continue to commit senseless crimes against society. Curfew bylaws have also been proven to only shift youth crime from the night time to during school hours (Benton, 1999, p. 89). The implementation of a curfew bylaw does not justify the limit that it places on youths' Charter rights because it does not even achieve its purpose of reducing crime.

Though supporters hail curfews as allegedly aiding the goal of decreasing youth crime, statistical analysis of youth arrest data does not support their assertions, finding no correlation between curfew enforcement and a reduction in juvenile crime. It is the mere nature and disposition of youth, the world over, to explore their adolescent years in active, dynamic, and often rambunctious ways. The exploration of one's self, through the participation in these activities, is necessary in order for a juvenile to mature into a responsible adult.

However, upon the occurrences of some isolated incidents, a minority of teenagers have absentmindedly decided to rebel and have committed crimes against society. Reports indicate that such teenage criminal activity has occurred mostly in the late evening and early morning hours; thus perpetuating the implementation of a town council bylaw, whereby installing a 10pm curfew for all persons under the age of eighteen. This bylaw is an outcry to youth rights all over the world. It is putting youth at a disadvantage based on their age, and as a result, is discriminating against youth as an act of ageism.

In theory, curfew laws for teenagers might appear to be a viable option in reducing youth crime rates; however, they violate basic charter rights and fundamental freedoms; they punish law-abiding teenagers; and are ineffective at achieving their goal of reducing youth crime. In actuality, teenage curfew laws are purely cosmetic, as they are a way for politicians and lawmakers to claim they are doing something to reduce youth crime without having to make any authoritative action themselves. The implementation of teenage curfew bylaws is ineffective, ill-advised and above all, unconstitutional.