Teen Curfew Debate

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Curfews for juveniles – Do they work?

With the Western Australian State Government’s introduction of the Young People in Northbridge Policy, the issue of juvenile curfews is both current and prevalent within our community. In recognising this issue as one of considerable interest, this paper introduces and critiques the Young People in Northbridge Policy and juvenile curfews more generally, leading to a statement of Outcare’s position on the matter.

Background: Responding to juvenile delinquency and offending

Both nationally and internationally, juvenile offending has consistently and pervasively been presented as a crucial area of concern among governments, their policymakers, and the general community alike. In Australia, statistics reveal that juvenile offender rates have generally been twice as high as adult ones. While the latest statistics from the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) demonstrate a significant decrease in Australian juvenile offender rates in the period from 1996–97 to 2003–04, from 3,965 to 3,023 per 100,000 per year, there has been a noteworthy increase since 2005 to 3,532 per 100,000 in 2006–07. Further, while the same statistics reveal a decrease in most offences, there has been a 48 percent documented increase in juvenile offender rates for assault in the decade from 1996–97 to 2006–07 (AIC, 2009, p. 58). These statistics serve to reinforce the importance of developing innovative responses in addressing juvenile crime, especially given that the juvenile stage represents a crucial point for intervention.

In responding to juvenile crime and delinquency, the implementation of juvenile curfew policies, which restrict the movement of juveniles in public spaces (usually nocturnally), have become an increasingly popular strategy, being revered as a means of crime prevention, harm minimisation and crime detection (Adams, 2003; Reynolds, Seydlitz & Jenkins, 2000; Simpson & Simpson, 1993). The imposition of such juvenile curfew



References: Adams, K. (2003). The effectiveness of juvenile curfews at crime prevention. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 587(1), 136-159. Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC). (2009). Australian crime: Facts and figures 2008. ISSN 1836-2249. Available at: http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/facts/2008/ Brown, B.K Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Government of Western Australia (DPC). (2002). Northbridge: Shaping the future. Available at: http://www.northbridgehistory.wa.gov.au/index.cfm?event=publications Gallop, G Gallop, G. (2004, July 2). Ministerial media statements: One Year On: Northbridge curfew delivering results. Available at Government Media Office: http://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/Results.aspx?ItemID=120528 Gallop, G Koch, T. (2003). Curfews: Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia. Indigenous Law Bulletin, 54. Mac Arthur, C. (2007). The ‘emperor’s new clothes’: The role of the Western Australian press and state government in selling the story of the Northbridge curfew. Doctoral dissertation, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia. Office of Crime Prevention, Government of Western Australia (OCP). (2009). Northbridge Policy. Available at: http://www.crimeprevention.wa.gov.au/content.php?page=Northbridge%20Policy Rayner, M Reynolds, K.M., Seydlitz, R. & Jenkins, P. (2000). Do juvenile curfew laws work? A time-series analysis of the New Orleans Law. Justice Quarterly, 17(1), 205-231. Right Track (Transperth Project, Government of Western Australia). (2009). News – The Northbridge curfew. Available at: http://www.righttrack.wa.gov.au/News/NorthbridgeCurfew/tabid/140/Default.aspx Sercombe, H Simpson, B. & Simpson, C. (1993). Use of curfews to control juvenile offending in Australia: Managing crime or wasting time? Current Issues in Criminal Justice, 5(2), 184-199. Town, S. (2001). Crime displacement: The perception, problems, evidence and supporting theory. Available at Home Office: http://www.crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk/skills/skills10.htm Walsh, C Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia (YAC). (2003). The public fight for young people to be in the city. Indigenous Law Bulletin, 55. ----------------------- [1] A personal communication quoted by Mac Arthur (2007), who’s research emphasised the superficial nature of the Northbridge curfew policy. [3] See for example: Gallop, 2004, July 2; Gallop & McHale, 2004, March 7; Gallop, 2004, November 29 [4] For example, the ‘right’ to vote, drive, or engage in any number of activities unsuitable or dangerous for young people (Brown, 2000).

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