Battling with Half a Brain!

I am learning that the issues surrounding daytime curfews are vast and complex. And that the issue is hardly one that is as simple as black and white. After yesterday’s post “Some Conservatives See Value in Daytime Curfews”, a friend decided to post his responses to my arguments.

Now normally my policy is not to provide detailed analysis of posted comments. It tends to take a lot of time and does very little to change people’s mind. But I am making an exception in this case because I know him and like him; and also because I think his comments and my subsequent answers demonstrate the complexity of this issue. So let’s begin!

John said:

First, you are conflating arrests with crime. Of course there will be more arrests if you start arresting people for truancy or daytime curfew violations. It is a logical fallacy to use arrest data for proof of crime data. If you arrested people for wearing yellow shirts, there would be an increased number of arrests. However, you would not assume that yellow shirts cause crime. Simply put, there are more arrests because you have created a new crime for which to arrest people. Increased arrests does not mean decreased crime.

First of all, if you had bothered to even read the study, you would have seen that the arrest numbers do not include curfew related arrests. So the numbers only represent youthful criminal arrests. And you are right that increased arrests does not necessarily mean decreased crime. It also doesn’t mean that crime has gone up. It is all in how you interpret the data. So to say that studies show that daytime curfews don’t work is not necessarily true either.

John said:

Police focusing on youth daytime curfew violators likely INCREASES violent crime. Policing daytime curfew violators distracts the police from rapists, drug dealers, murderers, child molesters etc. Law enforcement has a fixed amount of resources. Every hour spent writing tickets for daytime curfew violators is time not spent policing our streets for more serious crimes.

Do you have any facts to back this statement up? No! To say that, “Policing daytime curfew violators distracts the police from rapists, drug dealers, murderers, child molesters etc. ”, without any facts to back it up is nothing more than baseless fear mongering. The truth is that this measure as offered by the city will not have police out looking for truants. They will simply be able to enforce already existing truancy laws while in the performance of their regular duties.

John said:

It is wrong to grant the government the authority to stop people in the first place. Government should only limit personal liberty when it is absolutely necessary. There must be a clear government interest in taking away personal autonomy.

If someone is suspected of being in the commission of a crime, police do have a right to stop them. If a twelve year old is driving a car, should the police simply turn their head? If someone is smoking a substance in a hand-rolled cigarette that smells like marijuana, should law enforcement stop to see if it is an illegal substance? According to California law, if a minor is not in school during school hours (without parental permission) they are breaking the law. The problem is, there is no enforcement measure in place. And as for a public interest… I suppose it is in the public interest in allowing children to run the streets, without adult supervision?

John said:

Your arguments are nonresponsive to the statement that daytime curfews presume guilt over innocence. If a minor must now proactively provide proof that they are innocent, until they provide that proof they are guilty. In other words, if I do not show my homeschool slip, I will get a ticket, even if I have done nothing wrong.

If I don’t have my drivers license while driving a car, I will get at ticket and probably have my car towed, even though I am a licensed driver and have done nothing wrong. If I can’t find my auto registration, I will get a ticket even though I have done nothing wrong. I can come up with numerous other examples. But what you have forgotten is that in the case of the Roseville ordinance, it is little more than a fixit ticket. As with every example I have given, if you forgot your home school slip, you can show proof at a later time to be released from the ticket.

John said:

I fail to see why minors deserve special laws that restrict their rights and personal freedoms. I can understand the motivation to protect children from child labor, child abuse, child molestation; however, I do not understand why we should limit the rights of children.

Are you saying that we should eliminate child labor laws? Or even better, that we should allow 12 year old children to be able to consent to sexual relations with adults? Sounds to me like an argument that PBS did a piece on Yurgelun-Todd who is the Director of Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuroimaging at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts. She recently studied the differences between how adults and teens make decisions.

Her study shows that adults are more likely to use the pre-frontal part of their brain, which has been known to underlie thought and anticipation and planning and goal-directed behavior. In teens the anterior part of their brain which is the more emotional region or that gut response region has more activation compared to the adult. Meaning that teens tend to make decisions based on emotion, where as adults tend to make decisions more based on logic and reasoning. Which explains why adults tend to make better decisions.

I did not need a neuropsychological study to tell me what wisdom and experience as a father and teacher has already demonstrated. Teenagers tend to be emotional and as such are not the best at making potentially life altering decisions. That is why we have parents! And in the absence of parents, we have laws that protect children from harming themselves.

You know, the study also points out that a human’s brain is not fully developed until they are in their mid-20’s. This clearly explains the absurdity of your statement. So do yourself a favor, if you can’t declarations like this to yourself, it would be best to keep your mouth shut until you have use of a fully functional brain.

Just kidding! I appreciate the challenge!

Also read my origional post on this issue “Is Roseville’s Day Time Curfew a Bad Idea?

Craig DeLuz

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