There are many laws passed in today’s society that have a foundation for protecting our youth. Of course, many of these laws are a target for controversy, but one these laws seems to have found itself at the top of the list. This law, in many peoples opinion, is a direct violation of our rights as American citizens. Some believe that this is a gateway law that gives the government the ability to become even more overbearing and suppressing to society in general. However, there are also people that feel that this law is vital to the well being of our communities.
The law that I speak of is called a curfew law. It provides a community with the power to regulate what time minors have to be off the streets and in their homes. There is no individual reason that provides a firm foundation for the passing of this law, but rather complaints by citizens that choose Claremore’s youth to be a scapegoat for this city’s problems. Unfortunately, I’ve been under this law’s jurisdiction myself because it came into affect just after I became a teenager.
Therefore I’ve been on both sides of the fence and I’m here to say that I do not agree with this law because it is violates my rights, it gives the police more grounds to do what they want despite what people might expect and it causes Claremore’s youth to go some places that are a lot more dangerous than their home town just so they can hang out with their friends. I mind you, I am now nineteen years of age and a two- year escapee from the penitentiary this law confines teenagers in.
We know you (our parents and other adults in Claremore that agree with the curfew law) didn’t grow up in the same conditions we have to grow up in, but this is what we’ve been raised in. We know what to expect when we go out at night. We know what kind of people and dangers that are out there. If you are worried that we are going to cause trouble then you must not trust us very much. I know that there are kids out there that do nothing but cause trouble, but never the less that does not mean every other teenager in that community should be punished.
To a teenager a curfew law is just another reason for police to pull you over at night. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, it is also another way for the city to make money. Considering that each issued curfew ticket is $122, they eventually add up to a nice sum of money. I know how much they cost because I’ve received one in the past. I was coming back from Walmart one Friday night when I was seventeen years old. It was 3:00 a. m. and I was driving a black Eagle Talon sports car. The windows on the vehicle were tinted very dark, so there is no way the officer could have seen my friend or I in the vehicle.
We were neither speeding nor driving recklessly, so there was no reason for the officer to pull us over. He saw a black sports car on a Friday night and just assumed there were teenagers in it doing something illegal. To most adults this law is just fine. This is because you have never had to experience its control and because it doesn’t affect you at all. That is unless one of your sons or daughters receive a ticket. Try to imagine for a moment that you are in our position. For example, take a regular away-high school football game in which your team are the visitors.
You want to go watch your best friends play but you know that you won’t get back in time to make the curfew, or say your seventeen and you want to go to a movie on a Friday night, but unless your back home before 1:30 a. m. your libel to be charged with a curfew violation because the community doesn’t think we are responsible enough to go to a late movie. I realize these examples seem unrealistic but I am using them because I’ve had friends that have received curfew citations for these very reasons.
The youth of this community represent Claremore with great character, achievement scholastically and athletically as well. We pay our tickets whether they are justified or not. We abide by all of this city’s regulations just the same as adults do. We constantly listen to advice and critiques that this city gives us assuming that it will make us better people and upstanding citizens. The fact is everyone is so busy commenting or giving us advice that no one ever listens to what we have to say. In fact, this display of behavior is disrespectful and quite rude.
Of course, there are exceptions to this statement, but they are few and far between. We know that you all have much more experience in life than we do, but you must realize that we are not you. We have been raised in much more complicated times. Therefore, we have adjusted as well. We know you used to be able to sleep with the doors and widows unlocked at night and everyone knew everyone, but times have changed and we are a mere product of that change. We know what the difference between good and bad is as well as what kind of people to hang out with.
You say that you don’t want to have to worry about your kids being out late at night. That is respectable and understandable reasoning. Once again though I have to say we are not you. Just because you or people you knew might have partied and raised hell all night when you were teenagers doesn’t mean that we are the same way. Also, Claremore has the highest number of police cars per city population in the state. With this many police cars patrolling the streets every night, it discourages teenagers from doing anything stupid because a police car seems to be on every street.
What is unfortunate is that you know this but you still agree with this law because it doesn’t affect you or your life style at all. It is because of this attitude that the law was passed. Of course people hide behind a couple of reasons like “it protects our youth” or “makes the streets safer”, so us “kids” go places where bogus curfew laws are not enforced. Take Tulsa for example, most of us go to Tusla, a much more dangerous city than Claremore, because we know we won’t get hassled for hanging out with our friends. We tried to hang out in Claremore before, but we always get ran off.
Teenagers like to just sit on their cars in NEMAR parking lot and hang out with their friends. Unfortunately, the city of Claremore cannot and will not condone this unhinging manner of behavior, so these teenagers are ran off by the police. Its not like they were throwing a keg party on Main Street like many of our parents might have done in the past. Some teenagers were just trying to hang out in their home town, but its been demonstrated many times by the local law officials that the adult community in Claremore doesn’t want us here.
Therefore, we wind up in Tusla one way or another. We know that this curfew law was intended to protect Claremore’s youth rather than to cause friction between the community and us, but now it’s obvious that its effects have done just that. As a result we no longer fill comfortable in our own community and our parents now rely on the city to regulate what time their siblings should be home instead of taking the understood parental responsibility they should have by deciding their child’s/children’s curfew themselves.
After all, parents know their child/children on a much more personal level than the city, and they know what curfew is most suitable for their child’s/children’s maturity level and age. In order to become mature adults we must first develop responsibility. Because of this law we haven’t been given the opportunity to demonstrate that we are responsible citizens of this community. Instead we’re recognized as impertinent hooligans that require the assistance of a law to prevent youth oriented crime and chaos.
Many of my friends as well as myself (Claremore’s future leaders) have already decided that we want to leave this city and never look back, and to not even consider raising kids of our own under these circumstances. I know at least when I’m a father that I will determine what rules and curfews are best for my children rather than letting my community decide for me. To my friends and I the saddest part of this whole situation is that our objective on the weekends isn’t to just get out of the house anymore, it’s to get out of Claremore.