Mandatory curfews help teenagers behave responsibly.

The Effects of Mandatory Curfew on Teenagers

by Kristine Tucker

Mandatory curfews, whether established by you as a parent or by your local government, have both positive and negative effects on teenagers. Teens want to feel independent and self-sufficient, yet they need authority figures to help guide their decisions and moderate their behavior. Teenagers aren't always mature enough to make the right choices, especially when it gets late and peer pressure influences their thinking.

1. Accountability

Mandatory curfews hold your teenagers accountable for their actions after dark. Parenting consultant Barbara Meltz says teenagers feel safer when they have boundaries and know their parents are paying attention and holding them accountable for their actions, according to Boston.com. If your community enforces a mandatory curfew, it can make your job easier by giving you a legal reason to support the curfew. You can also create your own mandatory curfew, but you must enforce it consistently or your teens won't take it seriously. Hold them accountable by taking away their car privileges, grounding them or disallowing them to hang out with friends after hours.

2. Safety

Even though mandatory curfews don't ensure that your teen won't engage in harmful or illegal activities, they give your child less availability to do so. The later teenagers are out, the more they are exposed to people who may be making poor decisions because they are fatigued, doped, intoxicated, inclined to violent behavior or drinking and driving, according to psychologist Carl Pickhardt on PsychologyToday. Mandatory curfews help with teen safety concerns and give your teens a reason to get home before rowdy, reckless and irresponsible late-night behavior begins.

3. Potential Problems

Even though curfews have many positive effects on teenagers, there are disadvantages that often lead to problems. For example, self-made mandatory curfews become problematic when your child has the most restrictive or the most lenient curfew, says Meltz. Overly restrictive curfews make your teenager feel frustrated and bitter because his peers may see him as the most juvenile one in the group. If your curfew is the most lenient, your teen might negatively influence his peers, trying to get them to do things they normally wouldn't do. A mandatory curfew must be age-appropriate and comparable to those enforced by other parents in your community.

4. Viewed as Punishment

A mandatory, city-enforced curfew can have a negative effect on teenagers if it makes them feel that the city is punishing them for the misconduct of others, according to the organization GreaterGreaterWashington. Teenagers resent community-initiated curfews intended to curb illegal behavior exhibited by a small group of troublemakers and don't like paying the price for others’ poor decisions. By providing healthy nightlife alternatives and punishing only the teens who behave irresponsibly, teenagers can enjoy life after dark without unnecessary restrictions.

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