Lights out: City refocuses on youth curfew

Minneapolis officials want the city’s youth to be at home, fed and in bed by 10 p.m.

At least that’s the slogan behind a new campaign – dubbed “10 Home, Fed, Bed” – that aims to crack down on the number of youth curfew violations in the city.

The goal of the campaign, which began as a pilot program in North Minneapolis last year, is to increase parental awareness of the curfew laws and to teach them the dangers of kids being out at night. The campaign will be advertised throughout the city.

“The message is the same,” said Roberta Englund, who worked with the pilot program through the Folwell Center for Urban Initiatives. “And as children need to be safe in North Minneapolis, they also need to be safe elsewhere in the city. If increased parental awareness can help that happen, that is the goal of Home, Fed, Bed.”

The city’s curfew refers to the time children must be at home. While the curfew time changes according to age – on Friday and Saturday nights, for example, children under 12 need to be home by 10 p.m. while 12-14-year-olds can stay out until 11 p.m. and 15-17-year-olds can stay out until midnight – the focus of the campaign is 10 p.m. because it’s easy to remember and is the earliest weekend requirement. Sunday through Thursday night, children under 12 must be home by 9 p.m.; 12-14-year-olds must be home by 10 p.m.; and 15-17-year-olds must be home by 11 p.m. Police can issue youth caught out after curfew a citation. The first ticket is $25, the second is $50 and a third ticket could result in a court date. Youth with a prior record will have to go to court upon receiving the first ticket.

Minneapolis has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of curfew violations over last year, according to mayoral spokesman Jeremy Hanson. According to a mayoral press release, Minneapolis police made 3,024 curfew arrests from January to September in 2006, up from 1,790 in all of 2005.

The cause of the increase is unknown, Hanson said, although he pointed out that curfews have been enforced inconsistently in the past.

“A lot of parents and young people – and parents in particular – don’t know what the rules are,” Hanson said, adding that the new campaign will try to change that by using a slogan to remind parents what time their children should be home.

Englund said the pilot program, which took place in an area of North Commons Park in North Minneapolis, was a success.

“We had fewer kids on the streets,” Englund said. “You can never eliminate all of them, but parents seemed to be more aware that children out after curfew can easily become victims.”

The program will be sponsored primarily by the Minneapolis Empowerment Zone and Metro Transit. Bob Gibbons of Metro Transit customer services said it is important for the young riders to know that they can be charged for curfew violation on the bus and that there have been past problems of minors being rowdy on the buses after curfew.

“Part of our commitment to the program is to do some education for our young riders,” Gibbons said.