No seen, not heard
For a long time now, councils across the country have struggled with the growing problem of teenagers. Not all teenagers though, just the ones hanging around in public places late at night, for no particular reason. Well, in North Wales, the police have found a controversial new way to deal with the trouble makers, introducing a 9PM curfew for all under-16s.
Whilst I recognise that having groups of teenagers loitering around at night is a genuine problem, I feel I can vouch for young people when I say that they are not doing it out of choice.
Too young for most late-night social activities, such as going to the pub, and too old to simply stay at home watching TV with their Mums, under-16s are left in the awkward in-between stage where they have got nothing to do in the evening, so they end up on the streets, hanging around with their mates and just joking about.
Of course, this isn’t ideal for anyone. But whether the curfew is an effective method or not is debatable.
In some ways, it is – it keeps kids off the streets, I suppose. But it certainly doesn’t fix the underlying problem: the fact that there are very few things for teenagers to do in the evenings.
The 9PM curfew just provides a cheap, short-term solution, which doesn’t really solve the problem. And as soon as the curfew ends, in six months, the teenagers are most definitely just going to head straight back to the streets- because they still won’t have anything else to do in the evenings!
And not only is it ineffective, it is also very controversial as a civil liberties issue – provoking strong reactions not only from teenagers themselves, but from the civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, who claim that the idea someone could be “fined or imprisoned for walking through the town centre simply because you are 15 and not accompanied by a parent” is “madness”.
So what really needs to be done? In my opinion, more money needs to be invested in long-term plans for young people. Such as youth clubs and centres for young people etc. For example, a church close to where I live runs cheap monthly gigs for teens, which works for everyone – it keeps kids occupied for a night and provides money to the church, which benefits the local community. From what I can see, it’s this kind of positive and more tolerant approach that will actually solve the problem of teenagers hanging around the streets at night, rather than just banning them from leaving their homes at night.
BBC News. 2012. Bangor night-time ban on young criticised as ‘madness’ [Accessed June 2012] Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-18469957
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