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Chicago Considers Tightening Curfew For Kids Under 12

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Chicago is a toddlin' town, but if you're under 12, some city officials want you toddlin' off by 8:30 p.m. weekdays and 9 p.m. on weekends.

Public Safety Committee Chairman Michelle Harris, Aldermen Toni Foulkes and Lona Lane want to ratchet back the city's curfew for the under 12 crowd. It currently stands at 10 p.m. weekdays and 11 p.m. weekends for all kids under 17.

Curfew used to be a half longer until it was trimmed by then Mayor Richard M. Daley two years ago. More trimming is needed for younger children, according to Harris, Foulkes and Lane.

Some parents, however, are telling them to mind their own bee's wax.

"It's an attempt for the city council to parent," mother Karen Hobbs tells the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's up to parents to parent. I don't think setting an arbitrary curfew at different ages is going to solve the problem."

Another parent, Toseima Jiles, tells the paper the curfew is necessary -- especially when parents don't take their responsibilities seriously.

"We're at a point where we have to be more conscious of where our children are," she tells the Sun-Times. "When was growing up, your parents knew where you were, the neighbors knew where you were. I think we're getting away from that."

Alderman Harris tells the Sun-Times if the extended curfew saves even one young life, it will be worth the criticism.

"I grew up in a community where the standard rule was children had to be in by the time the street lights came on. I'd be lucky if my parents let me out of the house when dinner was over," Harris tells the paper.

"It wasn't that our communities were so terrible," she adds. "It's just that our parents knew how to protect us. This gives police another tool to help those parents who, maybe, don't have the best parenting skills or understand that pulling a child off the street at a certain time is a protection. Many times, children are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. That child should be in the house."

Foulkes added that "kids in our neighborhoods are out at all times of night" and it's time city officials protect younger children.

"What happens to the 8-year-olds? They had the same curfew as the 17-year-old. If they're walking on the street at night, they can be recruited by gang members," Foulkes tells the paper.

But is a tougher curfew really getting to the heart of the problem?

"The city needs to give children more things to do rather than force them into confinement," Julie Woestehoff of Parents United for Responsible Education tells the Sun-Times.

A stricter curfew must be coupled with programs that teach better parenting skills, adds Philip Jackson, the executive director of the Black Star Project.

"I can live with a lower curfew for children under 13 as being part of a comprehensive fix," he tells the paper. "But if all you're talking about is a tougher curfew for 12-year-olds, that's not going to fix anything."

Photo by Sawyer Bengtson of at Unsplash


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