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What Is the Point of a Curfew?

by Susan Revermann

Though your teenager may act offended and not understand the point of having a curfew, there are plenty of reasons to stand your ground on this issue. His safety, health and well-being are all part of this equation. Even if he gives you a bit of grief, knowing your child is safe under your roof is worth the effort of maintaining this important house rule.

Structure and Limits

A happy, safe and loving household has structure. Believe it or not, children and teens crave structure; it makes them feel that someone cares about them. A curfew is one way to establish and teach your teenager about limits. Be specific with your expectations and concise with consequences for breaking curfew. When your teen comes home on time, praise him and acknowledge his efforts to stick to the rules. If he’s late, explain that you were worried about him but that you must enforce the consequences.

Sleep Requirements

Since the teenage body is going through major changes during puberty, your teen needs plenty of sleep. Enforcing a set curfew can help keep him on track with this. He may not go to sleep as soon as he gets home, but at least he is in the house and in his bedroom, which is a good start. The American Academy of Pediatrics points out that if your teen stays up late and doesn’t get enough sleep, it can have a major impact on his physical health, academic performance and mood. He needs about eight and a half to nine hours of sleep daily to function properly.

Safety

Having a curfew helps get your teen inside during the nighttime hours, because safety is an issue. If he’s home, it cuts down on the possibility that he is drinking alcohol or using drugs. It reduces the chances of your teen being a perpetrator or victim of nighttime crime. When he’s at home, he's not loitering, vandalizing or painting graffiti. When he’s out, you may not know exactly where he is, what he’s doing or who he's with.

Curfew Laws

Many states have established locally mandated curfew laws. Although each city can define its own curfew specifications, most restrict minors to be at home between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. The time limits may have a slight change during summer months and on weekends. More stringent curfew parameters may be enforced in high-crime areas. Breaking the city curfew can result in a fine, mandatory community service, revoking of driving privileges or a misdemeanor charge. Establishing your own curfew for your teenager can prevent him from breaking the city curfew as well.

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