In response to the widespread increase in knife crime, the Devon and Cornwall police have instituted “Operation Goodnight", a new curfew program that will allow anyone younger than 16 found on the street after 9 PM to be “removed." Children under 10 will be sent home after 8 PM.
Now, no one is saying that it’s a good idea for 9 year olds to be running around late at night without their parents, and the rise in knife crime is certainly troubling. But is treating all kids who are socializing in the evening as criminals really the way to change a culture or to discourage them from behaving badly? Do we really want to live in a society where 16-year-olds who walk home with friends or buy a soda after an 8PM movie are looking over their shoulders, worried they’ll be shooed home?
After all, in the summer it’s still light out at 9 PM, and realistically, many schoolchildren with time off will not be headed to bed for a few more hours. But that is not even really the issue. The question is, should the government be deciding what bed-time is, or should the onus be on parents? A mentality that emphasizes the government over the family, and in which all youth are potential criminals will do little to help what is, at its root, a cultural problem.