City leaders propose earlier curfew for Chicago children

July 7, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The goal is to get unsupervised children off the streets earlier in the evenings and out of harm's way.

Two years ago, Mayor Richard M. Daley set curfew for anyone under the age of 17 to 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends. Since then concern about violence has not diminished.

Hanging out on the neighbors' porch is okay with Rodrigo Herrera's parents. He is supposed to stay close and when it's dark, he comes inside.

"They have to come inside the house and close the door when it's getting dark," said Ericka Herrera, mother.

Rodrigo is the oldest of four. At 12 years old, the earlier curfew is fine with his mom.

"Maybe some people can come and do something. It's hard to see in the dark. That's why I have them come inside the house," Herrera said.

Alderman Toni Foulkes of the 15th Ward was troubled to seeing younger children out past dark.

"I've seen kids seven and eight years old going to store. I don't know what they're going to the store for. I don't know if they are going to get chips for dinner, I don't know. But I know they don't need to be out at night unsupervised," said Foulkes.

Foulkes and two other aldermen are proposing an earlier curfew of 8:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights.

"They get recruited for gangs and if they are out after dark, they are prime prey for that," said Foulkes.

At the Black Star Project, the focus is on supporting parents in order for young people to thrive. The project's executive director, Phillip Jackson, says some families need more help rather than more laws.

"You cannot legislate good parenting. it's something you can absolutley can develop it but you can not legislate it," he said.

Jackson says mandating parenting classes would be more effective instead imposing fines if a child violates curfew.

Alderman Foulkes says the proposed law won't eliminate violence, but she hopes the proposal will get parents' attention.

The curfew proposal will go before City Council's safety committee in coming weeks.

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