The 14th amendment of the United States Constitution Essay
The 14th amendment of the United States Constitution states that any state shall not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” Legal. However, many cities and states in the US currently enforce curfew laws that deny young teens under the age of 18 their right to be in public places or to drive after certain hours. These laws are punishing minors for exercising their constitutional rights in the same way that adults do without such punishment; they are mostly causing no harm, and do not deserve to be discriminated against by the government in the way they are.
Many believe that teens are responsible for a large percentage of crimes, particularly violent ones, and that having a curfew in effect helps lower crime rates. In one study, the average adult surmised that teens amount for 43% of all violent crimes, when in reality the number is only a mere 13%, and this number is made up by only a half percent of minors Cobey. If this is the reason for creating curfews, it is clearly a discrimination against all minors, as reproving 99.5% of young citizens due to an inconsequential number of minors committing crime is certainly unjust.
As a matter of fact, in some cases, applying curfew laws have actually increased juvenile crime rates. Teens begin to associate police officers with the curfew, and police officers begin to see any minor that is in violation of curfew as a criminal. This tension may lead to crimes being committed by those who may not normally break laws Cobey.
I would suggest that if the government really wants to reduce crime rates, perhaps they should be targeting the percentage of the population that causes the other 87% of violent crimes. But let us take this hypothetical situation into consideration: What if the government decided that in order to reduce crime rates, no US citizen will be allowed to be in public after 11:00 p.m.? Most people would probably say that the government would never get away with such a ridiculous scheme. But in the case of curfew laws for minors, that is exactly what they are doing â€“ denying United States citizens the right to live their lives freely, regardless of age.
Another major argument that supports the enforcement of curfew laws is that it reduces the amount of traffic accidents, as minors are inexperienced drivers. But to that extent I ask: What does the time of day matter? If young drivers are inexperienced, they will most likely cause accidents no matter what time of day they are on the road. However, these laws probably do reduce traffic accidents and make the roads safer, not necessarily because of the age of the drivers, but simply the fact that there are fewer vehicles on the road. If a law were to go into effect restricting all drivers ages 30-40 from driving late at night, there’s going to be less car accidents. Does that mean that all drivers between the ages of 30 and 40 are bad drivers and don’t deserve to drive late at night? I don’t think so. Certainly it would seem unfair to disallow these people of their driving privelege, but this is in fact what our government is doing to our minors.
Minors are also not the only ones who are affected by these laws. Many of the aspects involved with teen curfews such as additional patrols, court appearances, etc. have caused some cities’ police departments to have to spend more money. This means that taxpayers must pay more money to have these laws around. In addition, while police are busy escorting those in violation of curfew, they could be out putting a halt to other crime that is being committed; that no matter what it is, is more important to stop than a teenager innocently driving their car after curfew.
Based on what’s been said, let’s analyze what having curfews for minors does and does not do for us. Curfews unfairly confine all young teens based on the actions of a small percentage of their population. They also do not significantly reduce traffic accidents, besides based on the fact there are less vehicles on the road, which could be done by restricting anyone, not just minors. Not only are mandatory curfews unfair to law abiding minors in attempting to reduce crime, but they have actually led to increased crime in some cases.
American taxpayers are also finding themselves being affected by having to pay more money that police departments need to enforce these bizarre laws. Finally, and most importantly, having mandatory curfews for minors is unconstitutional, plain and simple. The government has no right to deny those under the age of 18 of their right to gather in public places at any time of day or to treat them any differently than adults when it comes to constitutional rights.
There are many ways to reduce crime or completely abolish car accidents altogether, but not every solution to a problem would be fair to the rights of our country’s citizens. No matter if having curfews reduce crime rates or heighten them, if they lower the amount of traffic accidents or not, or whatever other effects that curfews may have, beneficial or detrimental, they positively should not exist because they conflict with the constitution of the United States of America.