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Curfew No Substitute For Community

Tom Chalkley
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Credit Tom Chalkley
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New city slogan: 'Come to Baltimore, Home of the 24/7 Curfew for Kids.'

We’re not there yet. But we’re on the way.

Everyone knows, the mayor says, that teenagers on the street at night are a threat to become victims or perpetrators of violent crime. The City Council, following her lead, wants kids off the street by 9 pm.  Streets are also off-limits for kids during the day between 7:30 am and 3 pm, unless they’re on the way to or from school.

“We have to do something,” says the bill’s sponsor, Councilman Brandon Scott. “Young children are out there,” he told The Sun. Anticipating the response, he said the idea is to connect young people with help – not to arrest them.

His bill, he might have said, is about protecting kids left in danger by their parents. If a teenager violates the curfew, parents can be fined $300.

Interestingly in this election season, elected leaders see the problem first hand.  They come back from door-knocking to report that no one’s watching the homefront. Kids are out there, as the councilman said.

The mayor says it’s a crisis that needs “all hands on deck.” Over-burdened social service hands are on deck.  Police hands as well.

But what about the rest of Baltimore’s hands? There has to be a rallying point as well as a rallying cry.

Who will lead? 

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Fraser Smith has been in the news business for over 30 years. He began his reportorial career with the Jersey Journal, a daily New Jersey newspaper and then moved on to the Providence Journal in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1969 Fraser won a prestigious American Political Science Association Public Affairs Fellowship, which enabled him to devote a year to graduate study at Yale University. In 1977, Fraser was hired away by The Baltimore Sun where in 1981, he moved to the newspaper's Washington bureau to focus on policy problems and their everyday effect on Marylanders. In 1983, he became the Sun's chief political reporter.