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Baltimore Again Uses Youth Curfew Despite Doubts About Effectiveness

Baltimore’s top elected official vowed to reinstate a curfew last month after a 14-year-old and 16-year-old were shot and injured — allegedly by a teen wielding an untraceable gun made from a kit — while police were dispersing a crowd of 200 youth, reports the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. “I want everyone to hear me and hear me clearly,” Mayor Brandon Scott said in a press conference regarding youth-on-youth gun violence, amid the city’s overall drop in gun and other violent crimes. “We are going back to the old days. We will be enforcing a youth curfew as we move into the latter spring and summer months.” Anyone 14 years and younger must be off the streets by 9 p.m. nightly as Baltimore resurrects a youth curfew it last imposed in 2014. In the 1980s and early 1990s, youth curfews gained popularity as the nation grappled with that era’s record-setting crime.

In recent years, as youth homicides have risen — homicide is the third leading cause of death among 10- through 24-year-olds — the National Youth Rights Association has counted 400 towns, cities, counties and states with youth curfews. Despite curfews’ appeal to some, a January 2023 Coalition for Juvenile Justice analysis cited research suggesting that such restrictions missed their intended goal of curbing youth crime. They did pare automobile injuries among teens. The coalition, listing several cities that enacted curfews in 2022, noted how Austin, Tex., ended a curfew in 2017, calling it ineffective. So far this year, in addition to Baltimore, curfews have been enacted or extended in cities ranging from Vicksburg, Miss., where the mayor pushed for one in response to the February gun death of a 13-year-old, to Daytona Beach, Fla., where residents expressed concern about spring break crowds becoming unwieldy.


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