Do curfews help teens stay out of trouble?

12_O__clock_by_AmberstockI recently attended a presentation focused on positive youth development, and the speaker made an interesting comparison. He stated that in all of his travels and presentations to youth and parents, he has found that teens who had curfews growing up made better life choices than those who did not.

While speaking at a detention center for youth, he asked the teens if they had curfews while living at home, and not a single one stated they did. At a high school presentation, he noted that many of the kids had curfews and were making pretty good life decisions.

His findings made me curious: Do curfews help teens stay out of trouble?

Studies about Curfews

Since this topic piqued my interest, I decided to do a little research of my own and found conflicting studies and opinions about the outcomes of a curfew.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors surveyed mayors in 347 cities with curfews and found:

  •  88 percent of the surveyed cities found that curfews made their streets safer for residents.
  • While only 72 of the 347 cities had daytime curfews, 100 percent of those cities showed a decrease in truancy and daytime crime.
  • Gang-related problems also dropped in cities with curfews; 83 percent cited a decrease in gang activity.

Another study from 1999 was featured in the Western Criminology Review.  The Analysis of Curfew Enforcement and Juvenile Crime in California concluded,

“Based on the current evidence, a crime reduction strategy founded solely on law enforcement intervention has little effect, suggesting that solutions are more complex and multifaceted.” However, mayors surveyed as part of the study argued that the curfews did reduce crime in their cities, even when the research did not support it.”

Lastly, The Effectiveness of Juvenile Curfews at Crime Prevention, a study completed by Kenneth Adams of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, showed that,

“there is more to effectively fighting juvenile crime than just arresting kids and fining their parents. Community involvement is the key to solving this issue. The study argued that a curfew will only act as a tool to identify a problem; laws and law enforcement are not the only solutions.”

Much of the research that I found was specific to a “law curfew” vs a “family curfew. Based on the research that is available, it is inconclusive whether curfews have the desired outcomes. It seems that citizens and civic leaders agree that curfews make a difference, but the issue of a curfew is more complex and may need to be addressed on a larger scale.

Know the Law

Whether parents impose a family curfew or not, there are Utah laws imposing a state curfew.

According to the Utah Laws and Consequences , if teens under 16 are out between the hours of 11:00 PM – 5:00 AM in Salt Lake City, they are in violation of the curfew law. If teens are 16 or 17, curfew is between Midnight and 5:00 AM. It is up to families to know the curfew of the city they are in, as cities may have different designated curfew times. Refer to city ordinances for those times.

Do you know the penalty for curfew violation?

Because curfew violation is a status or “children’s” offense, the Juvenile Court would impose a $25.00 fee. In the Third District Juvenile Court,  most curfew citations are handled by a bail-forfeiture process. Failure to pay may result in a formal appearance before the commissioner. Under most circumstances, curfew violators not releasable to parent(s) will be taken to the Salt Lake County Juvenile Receiving Center.


Check out the below resources that were reposted from


What are your thoughts? Do you impose a curfew in your family?

Teens – do you have a curfew?  Are there any benefits?

About kelly95r

I made the trek from the northwest to work with youth in Utah 8 years ago and have been loving it ever since. I oversee the Youth Services Afterschool Programs in the Granite School District. When I'm not working, you can catch me hiking, skiing, shopping, reading, camping and traveling.
This entry was posted in Family Counseling, Parenting Tips, Safe Place, SLCO, Teen Counseling, Truancy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Do curfews help teens stay out of trouble?

  1. I grew up with out a curfew, however I am pretty sure the reason why is because my parents knew how I am. I would much rather get a good nights rest, and I would rather not make the mistakes my siblings made. Plus they knew they wouldnt have to pay for a criminal lawyer later. LOL

    • kelly95r says:

      Thanks for visiting the Youth Booth! We appreciate your comment! It sounds like your parents were pretty lucky…they didn’t have to worry about you as a teen. I wish all teens could learn from the mistakes of others.

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