Ican't help but wonder how much real thought has gone into the notion of a daytime curfew.

West York borough has already approved a new daytime curfew ordinance and at least two other municipalities -- York City and North York -- are either considering doing the same thing or have placed the question on a back burner for future consideration.

What it amounts to is this: If you're 18 years of age or younger you must stay out of public places -- no parks, no movies, no pool halls, no restaurants, no malls, no walking the streets, etc. -- while school is in session, unless you have the permission of school authorities. Homeschooled children will need permission of their parent or guardian to be outside during daylight hours.

OK, I know what the motivation is -- when school's in session, we want kids in school, not roaming the streets. And I agree with that completely.

There's no counting on my fingers and toes (times 10) the number of times I've seen school-age children walking the city streets -- or the streets and sidewalks of every school district in York County -- when school was in session. And every time I'd ask myself out loud, "Why aren't those kids in school?"

And every time I reach these conclusions: 1) their parents either don't care or aren't paying attention, or both; and 2) school districts and police departments are not making much of an effort to enforce truancy laws already on the books.

Because these kids aren't exactly hiding in doorways and ducking behind cars.


They're in plain sight, walking down the street like they own it. They're bold, because they have no reason not to be bold.

I'm telling you, the cops and truant officers in West York, North York and York City would have no trouble filling an eight-hour shift with truancy arrests alone. In fact, it could be a full-time job for several officers.

But we don't do that, so now we have a new solution to this problem -- a daytime curfew for kids age 18 and under.

Problem No. 1 with this new deal: You might be surprised at the number of high school students who graduate at 17 and don't celebrate their 18th birthdays for six months or more after graduation. Those 17-year-olds have every right to walk the streets and sidewalks during daylight hours without being hassled by police and truant officers.

Yes, I know high school graduates are supposed to be exempt from this ordinance, but the problem is you can't tell a graduate from a student just by looking at them. So cops will end up stopping graduates -- some would say "hassling" graduates -- because they won't know their status until seeking identification or conducting an interview.

So, like it or not, 17-year-old graduates almost surely will get hassled, while the 19-year-old juniors and seniors -- more of those than you think -- who haven't graduated yet will get a free pass.

If municipal officials want to set an 11 p.m. curfew for 18-and-unders to keep kids off the streets late at night, that's fine with me.

But daytime curfews seem a bit much when you consider that there's nothing in this world to prevent cops and truant officers from stopping and arresting kids of any age who are supposed to be in school between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on a school day, but are instead walking the streets. There are already truancy laws -- reasonably strict truancy laws, too -- on the books to deal with this situation.

Daytime curfews are just one more law that either won't be enforced because it's too much trouble, can't be enforced because there's not enough manpower to do it effectively or will be selectively enforced to suit someone's mood on a given day.

My goodness, don't we have enough laws like that on the books already?

Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: lhicks@yorkdispatch.com.