Help for Families: 10/5

The Morning Call’s “Help for Families” column is a collaboration between The Morning Call and parenting professionals brought together by Valley Youth House’s Project Child.

Question: 16 year-old works at a fast-food restaurant and doesn’t get out of work until after 11 p.m. Our town council is considering imposing a curfew. I am worried how will this affect my son. Will he be allowed to work?

Answer: You and your son need to work with the system in this situation, the Help for Families panel says.

In most cases with a curfew, work is one of the exceptions, says panelist Chad Stefanyak.

You need to investigate and get all the facts about the proposed curfew, says panelist Denise Continenza.

“Parents tend to get hysterical before they know all the details, says Continenza.

This is a good way to make your son aware of how communities are governed, says panelist Michael Daniels.

You can talk about the function of town council, get involved and go to meetings, he says.

Let his employer know about the situation, the panel says.

Perhaps his employer can work with him and lets him out a little early, says panelist Jessica Katzbeck.

Since he is 16, he is old enough to talk to his employer himself, Daniels says.

Find out what the expected police response will be, says Daniels. There will be an adjustment period when people don’t think about a curfew.

“I’m sure the point of this curfew is not to arrest kids but to make parents aware of where their kids are,” Stefanyak says.

Talk to your son about how to react if he is approached by a police officer at night, Continenza says.

“Make sure he knows the appropriate manners for dealing with things he doesn’t agree with,” Katzbeck says. “He shouldn’t be a typical 16 year-old.”

The community is looking into imposing a curfew for a reason, she says.

“If kids fight it, it may make the curfew more severe and if they react responsibly it might go away faster,” she says.

The panel agrees a curfew may not be the most effective way to deal with problems like late-night vandalism in the community.

“All the kids are being punished for a group that may not even be from the community,” Katzbeck says.

Continenza agrees the community may need to look at other issues.

“This is like putting a Band-Aid on a wound,” she says.

She adds that studies show that curfews have a positive effect in major urban area where there is a high volume of crime but that has not been the case in smaller communities.

“It’s a good start for a dialogue with him about what is a more effective way of dealing with a problem,” Daniels says.

“Get him to be a part of the solution,” Continenza. “This is an opportunity for him to take on a leadership role in the community.”