Teens offer curfew thoughts

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:33 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Here’s what some teens who participate in after-school programs at the Columbia Boys & Girls Club think about the possibility of a citywide curfew.

Ashleigh McDonald, 14, is an eighth grader at Oakland Junior High School. She said a curfew would be unfair and infringe on parents’ rights.

“I think if your mom says you can stay out late, you should be able to,” Ashleigh said. “The City Council does not run what goes on in your house.”

Ashleigh said her mom doesn’t let her stay out late, but if a curfew were to become an ordinance, she would leave events early or make sure she has a ride from friends’ homes.

Ashleigh said that when she’s out late, she’s usually at the Blind Boone Center and gets a ride home from her mother or her aunt.

“I don’t need anyone else but my mom telling me what to do,” she said.

Zach Allen, 14, is in seventh grade at Lange Middle School. He expressed support for a curfew because he thinks that violence is more likely at night and that being out late is risky for kids.

“Too many bad people are out late at night,” Zach said.

To illustrate his point, Zach named a succession of recent crimes in Columbia, including the murder of Columbia police Officer Molly Bowden. He added that it is fair in many cases for police to be able to approach children and ask why they’re out late. He hopes, however, that police would be polite and minimize confrontations.

“Some (police officers) approach you inappropriately, and that’s not called for,” Zach said.

Jesse Simmons, 14, is in eighth grade at Oakland Junior High. He’s not thrilled with the idea of a curfew but said it wouldn’t be unfair.

“We usually only stay out to 11 or 11:30 anyways,” Jesse said.

Jesse splits his time between his mother’s home in Prathersville and his father’s home in Columbia. He said he’s usually home by 8 p.m. during the week after he leaves the Boys & Girls Club. If he is out late, he’s usually at a friend’s house or on the way home from events at the Blind Boone Center.

Jesse also expressed concern about police being able to stop him if he’s out after 11 p.m. or midnight. He’d hate to see police resort to automatic arrests without inquiring where kids are going.

“I’d be nervous, but I wouldn’t be, like, ‘I’m going to jail, man,’ ” Jesse said.

Arthur Johnson, 13, is in sixth grade at Lange Middle School. He said a curfew would make Columbia’s youngsters safer.

“I think it’s a good idea because it’ll keep more people out of trouble and less people would get hurt,” Arthur said.

Arthur said he is occasionally out after 10 p.m. because he plays basketball for a team called the Ballers.

Although Arthur usually gets a ride home after games, he knows how he would handle being approached by police if a curfew were in place.

“I’d just tell them I’m on my way home to a safe place,” he said.

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