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Students Rally Online Against Curfew

Facebook campaign targets July 26 County Council hearing; opponents will wear purple at Harry Potter premiere.

Hundreds of high school students—most of them not yet old enough to vote—are mounting a Facebook campaign against Montgomery County’s

Within hours of County Executive Isiah Leggett's proposal on Tuesday—which would ban anyone under 18 from public places after 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends—former Richard Montgomery High School student Abigail Burman launched “Stand Up to the MoCo Youth Curfew!,” a Facebook event calling on teens to converge on a County Council hearing set for July 26.

“The idea behind the curfew is a laudable one in that we all want to keep our kids safe,” said Alan Xie, a co-organizer of the Facebook rally and the Board of Education's student member. “In reality some studies have shown that curfews have no correlation to the number of crimes committed. Essentially we would be restricting our kids from doing what they want because a minority of the demographic has committed crime.

By 5 p.m. Thursday, the page had drawn nearly 2,000 supporters, many of whom voiced their opinion both for and against the curfew.

“Not all of us are criminals or have any bad intentions,” one girl wrote on the page. “It's not fair to punish us all. And yes there are fun, legal, safe activities us kids like to do when it's dark.”

While many comments railed against the curfew, others supported it as long as it incorporates a few changes before enacted.

“I agree with the idea of the curfew, but I think there should be restrictions like during summer allow one extra hour,” a recent Sherwood High School graduate wrote.

Curfew opponents will also make their presence felt Thursday night, dressing in purple among the hordes of Dumbledores and Hermione Grangers lined up for the final Harry Potter’s midnight premiere -- an event from which they would be barred if the curfew were in effect.

“We wanted some format to show we were all unified against this curfew. We really wanted to show that we have so many kids who are well-educated that would be adversely affected," Xie said.

Kevin Cheng, a senior at Walt Whitman High School, is among those who oppose the proposal.

“I think the curfew has the potential to cause a wide range of adverse effects, while not solving for the problems named in the bill,” Cheng said. “Businesses in the area lose out on much-needed revenue from minors during those hours.”

The National Youth Rights Association, which works with students who face government-enforced curfews, has been helping Burman and the Facebook event organizers prepare for the July 26 hearing.

“The fact is that curfews don’t work and they’ve never been proven to work,” said Dave Moss, NYRA’s director of development organization. “Police officers will say it’s another tool in their toolbox, but dozens of studies prove it’s a useless tool.”

Using a Google document posted on the event, Xie wrote a two-page form letter to the County Council, which students can modify. Xie has also encouraged students to send it directly to their representative on the Council.

“It’s so much more than a group of kids complaining about the curfew,” Xie said. “It’s a group of kids organizing themselves to do something about it."

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Abigail Burman is a former Richard Montgomery student. She is a rising senior at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.

nikhilg993 July 21, 2011 at 05:54 AM
^While I do agree that crime exists, I don't think that's the issue at hand. The better question is, will the curfew SOLVE crime, and I think the answer is no. The kinds of kids that you are describing, who have neglectful parents or simply don't listen to the rules wouldn't change their actions based on the curfew anyway. If it was created, they would simply continue breaking the rules and just have more charges brought up against them if caught. On the other hand, with the ban, you prevent other teenagers from engaging in certain activities (movies, concerts, hangouts) and force them inside, increasing their resentment towards authority and pushing them towards MORE harmful activity such as drinking.
nikhilg993 July 21, 2011 at 06:05 AM
In fact, I think that the action taken by teenagers against the county is a clear indication of their responsibility and rationality in the face of adversity. Their choices and beliefs demonstrate that they are capable of conducting themselves responsibly and safely.
Jeff Hawkins July 21, 2011 at 01:55 PM
You can't legislate good parental habits, nor should the County try. The County can't "prevent" things from happening. The answer to this problem and I agree that there is one, is NOT to "lock up" the kids when the sun goes down (sounds like a vampire movie). As for discussing, ranting, giving one's opinion, that is another right that citizen's have. In my opinion this is yet another attempt at providing a "nanny state" or God forbid....a "police state". Here's an analogy, everyone knows that there are "bad" drivers, especially young teens, should we take "all" of the teen drivers off the road? Even the good ones? The problem is simply not age related. It goes much deeper and the County will not address it or perhaps it can't.
Beth Borzone July 21, 2011 at 11:42 PM
What an interesting discussion! Perhaps the county can set up a committee that includes teens, parents, police, and county leaders to research the problem, discuss the issues and and come up with some viable win-win solutions.
Leigh Steven August 01, 2011 at 06:28 PM
This is coming from the same guy who wanted police to report the names of anyone arrested to ICE, and who wanted to require panhandlers to obtain a permit because "We are surrounded by a bunch of counties that do not allow panhandling" "So, we are going to be the panhandling magnet.", and he also supported more speed cameras along with the rest of the democrats so he could fund the police and fill his wallet.

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