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Curfew laws seek to provide general protection to youth and adults by restricting the times that children of certain ages are allowed to occupy public places or streets. These laws often contain exemptions for youth accompanied by an adult, responding to an emergency, or traveling to or from school, work, or a religious service, among others. However, the actual language used and exemptions included vary by locality. As a result, courts have reached different results—several courts upheld curfew laws as constitutional, while others overturned these laws. Although not the original reason behind juvenile curfew enactment, several studies have found that juvenile curfew laws reduce other youth health consequences. For example, studies have shown that the enactment of a juvenile curfew law reduces juvenile traffic injuries and fatalities, pediatric transports and pediatric trauma transports, and the volume of juvenile trauma cases. Given that these laws have public health benefits and continue to be enacted across the country, this article will provide guidance for policymakers on how to propose and draft these laws to avoid problems in other similar statutes that resulted in them being overturned. A four-step framework by Harold Lasswell for understanding the creation of a policy called “The Policy Cycle” is used as structure for this article.

Publication Citation

8 St. Louis University Journal of Health Law & Policy 301 (2015).


Health Law and Policy | Juvenile Law | Legislation