Regarding Dan Gilgoff’s article “Late-Night Rights” (10/8): I feel strongly about a curfew for teens. This article disturbed me on a few levels. First, as a onetime case manager for New Jersey’s Division of Youth & Family Services, I know a little about teens and the need for a curfew. There is no logical reason why an adolescent 16 years old or younger should be out on the street past 11 p.m. on a school night without an adult. A school-aged adolescent should be home and either in bed or preparing for bed at 11 p.m. This is the responsibility of the parent.
As a 39-year-old black male, I remember that when I was 16, my curfew was when the street lights came on. If I wasn’t home within a reasonable time after that, my parents ultimately came out “hunting.” Those whom I’ve talked with have had the same or at least similar experiences.
Second, we live in an age of elevated levels of violence. We have more adolescents killing each other or being involved in criminal activity now than at any time in history. This is especially true of youths in urban settings. I find it “interesting” that the background for this “demonstration” was in Dupont Circle, NW, a predominantly white area where criminal activity is much less than around, let’s say, Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., SE., especially involving adolescents. For example, a teenager is more likely to be involved in a drive-by shooting in Anacostia than in Dupont Circle.
This brings me to my third point—and why this article disturbs me: David Grossman, age 15 and “a preternaturally young American University sophomore,” thinks his civil rights have been violated by the D.C. curfew. He should read more about the fight others have had to endure and continue to endure in this country to gain civil rights—and how those words cannot just be tossed around like yesterday’s term paper. The last time I looked up the word “sophomore” in the dictionary, I found something like “educated fool.”
If Grossman needs to express himself, let him take up the pen and not put himself and others at risk of becoming yet another statistic of youth violence.