I’m not a fan of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but when it comes to the issue of youth curfews, I can see a constitutional challenge being launched to end these acts that unfairly and universally target a particular age group.
Bruderheim has implemented a curfew for all children under the age of 15 years, says a report from the Edmonton Journal on Aug. 26.
Under their bylaw, all youths under the age of 15 must be off the streets between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. The bylaw makes exceptions, such as for youth who are driving from one place to another without any detours, says the Journal Report.
Also, it does not apply to anyone returning home for work or a recreational activity, or “anyone involved in an emergency.” There are also fines for offenders, with the first at $100 and doubling for the second.
Other communities have youth curfews as well, adds the Journal report, including Slave Lake and Red Deer.
But I find it appalling and immoral that a particular age group is targeted with a universal law. Sure, some youth under 15 are out late at night and they can cause problems for themselves and public safety.
But there are also adults who can cause problems. For example, those who drink excessively at licensed establishments and then want to drive, when they are legally impaired and should not be driving.
Or, let’s take the adults who go street racing at all hours. Or, they play their music loud in a residential area at 4 a.m.
Oh, and while we’re on the subject, let’s talk about Halloween curfews. Yes, I appreciate some residents and elected officials want to curb vandalism and other property damage.
But imposing an all-encompassing, day-to-night curfew in a community to prevent children and families from going out for Trick-or-Treating because a few people might throw eggs at buildings, or spray paint graffiti, is blatantly unfair. Why do they deserve that punishment?
As I see it, a Halloween curfew is a blantant violation of the exercise of freedom of mobility, freedom of assembly, freedom of association and freedom of speech. That’s why I would like to see an activist group launch a constitutional challenge against all blanket, one-size-fits-all curfews.
If curfews are to be imposed, then it should be done on a case-by-case, individual basis, by the courts. Individual curfews are more appropriate, especially if the person has violent criminal record that necessitates it.
As for what municipal governments can do to keep youth from being out late at night and/or causing threats to themselves and public safety, give them a voice in their own communities. Meet with them, talk to them, find out what kind of programs they need.
Moreover, residents should get involved with Citizens On Patrol-type programs and with youth-centred programs. These are some answers to giving youth their rightful place in society, not universal curfews. Work together, that’s the best way to achieve a better society.