CURFEW PUSH IS ADMISSION OF OUR FAILURE.Byline: Rita Walters Rita Walters (1930-) is currently the commissioner of the Los Angeles Public Library. Prior to this position, she served on the Los Angeles City Council representing the 9th district. During that time, she chaired the Arts, Health & Humanities Committee.
A curfew prohibiting youth to be on Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. City streets after 10 p.m. is an easy sell to a public which feels besieged be·siege
tr.v. be·sieged, be·sieg·ing, be·sieg·es
1. To surround with hostile forces.
2. To crowd around; hem in.
3. by crime. Knowing that the issue is far too complicated for quick and easy resolution, the City Council nevertheless feel pressured to act.
However, as the current debate over enforcement of the ``three strikes, you're out'' measure demonstrates, the urgency behind emotion-driven solutions must, sooner or later, confront the folly of feel-good legislation.
We cannot continue to pursue solutions that are nothing more than a reshuffling of the problem.
People of color Noun 1. people of color - a race with skin pigmentation different from the white race (especially Blacks)
people of colour, colour, color
race - people who are believed to belong to the same genetic stock; "some biologists doubt that there are important , in particular, must beware our own tendency to support law-and-order legislation that may simply legitimize le·git·i·mize
tr.v. le·git·i·mized, le·git·i·miz·ing, le·git·i·miz·es
le·git the rope-and-brand kind of justice that we have fought against so strenuously in the past.
Unless it can be carefully monitored, the teen curfew proposal can easily become another device to further marginalize mar·gin·al·ize
tr.v. mar·gin·al·ized, mar·gin·al·iz·ing, mar·gin·al·iz·es
To relegate or confine to a lower or outer limit or edge, as of social standing. people of color, and to increase the number of youngsters who enter adulthood crippled by a police record.
To no small extent, the push for a teen-age curfews are an admission of our failure.
Failure of parents to exercise sufficient guidance and discipline to steer their children clear of dangerous activity, and instill in·still
To pour in drop by drop.
instil·lation n. standards of obedience to parental control.
It's also the failure of those institutions second only to the family in terms of their opportunity to teach and influence children in their formative years - our schools and religious institutions.
It's the failure of elected officials and government to recognize the changed nature of our society, and the explosive growth of its youthful segment, and provide appropriate leadership.
And, finally, it's our collective failure to place a premium on these young lives and commit ourselves and our resources to their care and nurture.
The problem with the curfew is not that it won't work, but that it may work against us - that by turning to teams of police to do what families, institutions and communities have failed to do, we will compound our errors and pay the price later for false security now.
Are some of our youth a problem? Absolutely.Should we sit idly by while teen-agers loiter loiter v. to linger or hang around in a public place or business where one has no particular or legal purpose. In many states, cities, and towns there are statutes or ordinances against loitering by which the police can arrest someone who refuses to "move along. , roam and engage in threatening damaging and often violent behavior? Absolutely not.
The question is not whether we should act in the face of increasingly disturbing teen-age behavior. Most people agree that the need for solutions is immediate and critical.
Unchecked teen-age delinquency not only threatens the larger citizenry cit·i·zen·ry
n. pl. cit·i·zen·ries
Citizens considered as a group.
Noun 1. , but imperils the safety of the teen-agers themselves.
But will a curfew prove to be an effective deterrent against juvenile delinquency juvenile delinquency, legal term for behavior of children and adolescents that in adults would be judged criminal under law. In the United States, definitions and age limits of juveniles vary, the maximum age being set at 14 years in some states and as high as 21 ?
Of primary concern to community leaders and civil rights activists is the potential for targeting groups of youth for curfew ``arrests'' based on presumptions based on ethnicity, dress or other selective criteria.
As initially introduced on a pilot basis, the teen curfew immediately raised the ire of parents and other community activists for its appearance of targeting African-American and Latino youth.
At my urging, the City Council remedied that by a majority of vote, and the curfew will go into effect throughout the city at the same time.
But that initial handling of the proposed curfew should remind us that the problem isn't always the law itself but, rather, how those in authority choose to implement and enforce it.
We may wish it were otherwise, but this is not the time to relax our vigilance. And our youth are not the ones who should be made the target of emotional appeals to ``take back our streets.''
As evidenced by the millions of dollars paid out each year to settle abuse cases involving law enforcement in the city and county of Los Angeles, applications of the law cannot, unfortunately, be assumed fair and unbiased in all cases.
I am concerned that young people, due to their age and lack of maturity, may be even more vulnerable to abuses of their constitutional liberties.
We can't sugar-coat the reality of youthful crime; it is increasing at an explosive rate. But we should examine our tendency to treat youthful offenders youthful offenders n. under-age people accused of crimes, who are processed through a juvenile court and juvenile detention or prison facilities. In most states a youthful offender is under the age of 18. with the same measures which have failed to deter crime at the hands of adults.
Nor does the teen-age curfew law recognize a simple reality for far too many of our young people: Without the streets they have nowhere to go, no place to be.
In households forced by poverty to double up - and even triple up - in housing much too small for their needs, young people have no moments of privacy, no place to be alone and seek out, in lieu of the anonymity of the streets.
In my own South Central district, there is a dearth of entertainment options for young people - one movie theater near USC An abbreviation for U.S. Code. , no skating rinks, soccer fields or bowling alleys. Dependence on public transportation makes it virtually impossible for one of my teen-age constituents to have an evening movie date and be home before 10 p.m.
A few days ago, despite my reservations, I voted to enact the curfew. But, still I worry that we may have embraced a strategy that will result in making our children outcasts, unwelcome by a society that has relinquished responsibility for their care.
As the state legislature A state legislature may refer to a legislative branch or body of a political subdivision in a federal system.
The following legislatures exist in the following political subdivisions:
Nevertheless, as reported by the Rand think tank, early intervention ear·ly intervention
n. Abbr. EI
A process of assessment and therapy provided to children, especially those younger than age 6, to facilitate normal cognitive and emotional development and to prevent developmental disability or delay. - taking care of our children before they become lawbreakers - would reduce crime by the same level at one-fifth the cost spent on bringing them into the juvenile justice system.
No, we can't afford to ignore the accelerating rise in juvenile crime, but neither can we redeem the lives of our children by setting them up for an early offense.
MEMO: Los Angeles City Council The Los Angeles City Council is the governing body of the City of Los Angeles, California, United States. member Rita Walters represents the 9th District
Photo: L.A. curfew: An attempt to curb teen-age delinquency .