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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.

jeannie July 15, 2011 at 02:26 AM
teens need to be rallying yourselves how you can change from pessimistic to optimistic Keep your life and each other safe this is not the high school hallway out here you would like to think the vexation to your little spirits keep it real not just to be heard you hear me or my bad you are clogged with ipods and video games
jeannie July 15, 2011 at 02:28 AM
until we see your obituary while your mother and father cry over you freedom is here just safety goes with it
Fau Nyagetera July 15, 2011 at 03:37 AM
"Students do not shed their constitutional rights when they enter the schoolhouse door." Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas Nice knowledge of the Constitution
Fau Nyagetera July 15, 2011 at 03:43 AM
Too bad, curfews rarely address problems for 2 reasons most youth crimes happen in the afternoon. And that it punishes the ENTIRE youth population for the actions of those who probably won't follow the curfew in the first place.
Fau Nyagetera July 15, 2011 at 03:57 AM
Dissent is the highest form of patriotism - Thomas Jefferson It seems apperant that you have been fear mongered to death. Look at DC, PG county, Detroit...curfews are pointless
Beth Borzone July 15, 2011 at 06:24 AM
I want to commend the Montgomery County Teens for demonstrating such adept political skills such as 1) using social media to organize around an issue that is important to you, 2) organizing a symbolic political demonstration at Harry Potter (Sam Adams of the Sons of Liberty would be proud), 3) Organizing a public meeting to discuss the issue. These are very important skills that can be very effective in a democracy, along with petitions and writing letters and e-mails to elected officials. I am not sure how I feel about the curfew, but I am jmpressed with the way the Montgomery youth are effectively advocating their position. I look forward to hearing more about their their perspective and encourage them to be active participants in our democracy!
jeannie July 15, 2011 at 09:44 AM
regardless of what teens feel they still have no rights stand up all you will but it will never be every city in america has a curfew gather more real information will you~~~~~~
jeannie July 15, 2011 at 09:47 AM
it does not matter you don't own this county teenagers believe waht the constituiton stands just for them good luck i don't need politics to support what is real and true I BELIEVE IT will not happen go to bed at eleven you are not ADULTS
jeannie July 15, 2011 at 09:49 AM
are you this country 's leaders good bad and ugly still do not have the freedom to decide others decisions it is not your choice you are not ADULTS you are litttle teens no real hard decisions in life but what to wear and college
Brian July 15, 2011 at 11:46 AM
I think this is LONG overdue. There is rarely a valid reason for youth to be gathering in public locations so late.
Jeff Hawkins July 15, 2011 at 11:49 AM
Once again....the "nanny state" trying to control all things. Let's see here.....a person 17 years, 11 months can't stay out past 11:00, yet one month later when this person turns magically to 18 years old......they can go off and fight our wars......does that make any sense? We all know the MoCo police won't do anything concerning illegal immigrants, but they will harass legal citizen's. How about this scenario? What if that 16 or 17 year old who gets "picked up" after 11:00 is an illegal immigrant? What do they do then? Will the police handle both issues of "being out late" and being an "illegal"? I would like to think our Police have more important things to address. This law will be a huge mistake.........but par for the course for our elected leaders.
Deanna Duff July 15, 2011 at 12:11 PM
I agree with Beth. I applaud the teens for the way they are organizing themselves. While teens don't have adult privileges, they are still citizens and I feel they deserve to be heard. I do not think the teens are being "dumb, silly, or ignorant". These teens are advocating for themselves, and they are doing it in a way that reflects thought and intelligence. They are using the correct process instead of just complaining. I would like to hear more on the facts and statistics of the effectiveness of curfews before a law is put in place.
Frank Grupt July 15, 2011 at 01:30 PM
Please stay in (or go back to) San Francisco, Jeannie. Your grammar sucks and your reasoning is even worse. Seriously--why do you make us dig through your inarticulate rambling sentences?
Frank Grupt July 15, 2011 at 01:32 PM
This is MoCo! By passing the curfew, police can be enforcing laws (by checking ages) without having to do hard police work (like finding criminals). Their monthly reports go up, and they are able to justify budget increases. Then, when they stub their toes on the job, they can retire on full disability. Ca-Ching!!!
Jack Edwards July 15, 2011 at 03:50 PM
It really is just another way for MoCo police to make more money by legally robbing citizens. So what if kids are out late? Yes, there's a higher chance there are nefarious activities going on; doesn't mean all of them are doing so. Some of the most amazing view of the stars/meteor showers I've ever seen while star gazing was at like 2 am when I was 16. Frank, I fully agree with you on the police monthly report argument; and I also appreciate you saying something about Jeannie. Those non-sensical rambling, ranting comments are quite uncalled for, especially in that amount. Let's just hope MoCo executives get a bit of sense in them from the kids, several years ago I would've been right there organizing with them.
Jeff Hawkins July 15, 2011 at 04:28 PM
I agree Frank.....
ilkunta July 16, 2011 at 06:19 PM
jeannie: Then go back to San Fran. & go straight to the Board Of education & tell them THEY FAILED in educating you. Your comments lack sense and correct grammar!
ilkunta July 16, 2011 at 06:20 PM
I opened my email and saw 22 replies on this post. I was happy, thinking 22 people shared their thought. but instead it is repeat posts by jeannie who lacks sense. stephanie: are you moderating?
ilkunta July 16, 2011 at 06:22 PM
If teens need curfews it is THEIR PARENTS who should se them NOT MoCo. You need to check the stats as they show taht CURFEWS DONT CURTAIL VIOLENCE! Young people do die every day AT ALL TIMES OF THE DAY!
ilkunta July 16, 2011 at 06:23 PM
car accidents, rapes, gang violence all occur AT ALL HOURS OF THE DAY.
ilkunta July 16, 2011 at 06:25 PM
brian: Going to see a movie( for ex the late night screenings of Harry Potter) , coming from work, or just hanging out outisde as they are young & this is their time to enjoy life! Would you prefer the teens go to illegal house drinking parties/ Or illegal pharm parties? Would you prefer the teens be sedementary? Stay in the house & eat junk food & play video games? No wonder obesity is on the rise.
RVN6768 July 17, 2011 at 06:46 PM
If the the police lock up the low life thugs, drunks, & gang members, we would not have a problem. Maybe they could hold the county council meeting at 11:00 pm and then see how many teens show up.
ilkunta July 19, 2011 at 12:46 PM
RVN: QUOTE : "If the the police lock up the low life thugs, drunks, & gang members, we would not have a problem. " "I agree. So in order for them to do that, they DONT need to be harassing teens for their ages. THey need to be doing police work! QUOTE: " Maybe they could hold the county council meeting at 11:00 pm and then see how many teens show up. " The council meeting doesnt need to be @ 11pm to have the teens hsowup. Have it in a CENTRAL place. Rockville isnt central to all kids in the county. I feel this is discrimination. I KNOW in Poolesvile kids are out until 2 & 3am, but because Poolesville is mostly Anglo there aren't mentioned. Instead downtown Silver Spring, downtown Rockville, downtown Bethesda are being targeted.
Jeff Hawkins July 19, 2011 at 01:28 PM
You are correct. This amounts to a multitude of possible types of discrimination being age, possible gender? ( will girls be targeted as much as boys), race, economic, locality and so on. This all from a County that likes to profess their diversity and freedom. In reality MoCo is a County that likes, wants and needs to control and tell you what to do and all the time with their hand "in your wallet". This is wrong......
Moritz Reiter July 21, 2011 at 01:32 AM
There is allot of teen crime in Silver Spring. This is not only a measure to prevent juvenile crime offenses, but to prevent juveniles from becoming victims. I am a parent that would never let my child hang out all hours of the night. Parents have great responsibility, but unfortunately the bad parents have put us all in this predicament. MOCO government and MCPD are not trying to infringe on your rights, they are trying to protect your children and everyone else in this county. I see daily the MCPD have to cite kids in my neighborhood for committing crimes right next door to where I live (parking lot) because the parents have no idea or don't care that their kids are out drinking and menacing law abiding citizens in this county by hanging out at all hours of the night. Those complaining on how things run in MOCO, only rant online when something directly affects them. I suggest if you don't like MOCO, vote or move.
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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