Curfew questions in Hancock County

The Hancock County Commission is looking into the possibility of instituting a countywide curfew for those under the age of 18.

The issue of a “youth protection ordinance,” as it has been dubbed, has been discussed on numerous occasions of late, and seems to be gathering more steam as a result of increases in crime, in particular in some of the unincorporated communities of Hancock County.

Many residents have said unsupervised juveniles have been responsible for many of the break-ins and other incidents in the county.

We do not yet know what form this curfew ordinance will take, but something needs to be done to protect our young residents and the victims of these crimes, as well as to prevent those who are committing these crimes from doing so.

The curfew, if enacted, would provide police and sheriff’s deputies with the authority to stop any juvenile out in public after a set time of night. It has been done in other area counties and communities, and, for the most part, has worked.

In most cases, select exceptions have been included, such as when traveling to and from school events, religious activities or those who are out with their parents’ permission. There is no reason these types of exceptions should not be included in this case.

Law enforcement officials are charged with preventing crime and keeping residents safe. If juvenile crime truly has become this much of a problem, then they must be able to react accordingly.

However, the parents of these children must be involved in this entire process as well.

Parents ultimately are the first in line to ensure the safety of their children. They must be aware of where their children are and what they are doing.

A 12-year-old, for example, should not be running around town unsupervised after midnight.

Parents have to be involved and also must be willing to accept some share of the blame if their juvenile child is caught committing a crime.

Parents already can be held responsible for failing to ensure their child goes to school. There is no reason a similar arrangement cannot be included in this case.

We will, of course, reserve our final opinion until legislation is prepared and presented for the commission’s consideration.

Until then, we also encourage our residents to pay close attention to these developments and let the commissioners know your thought on the matter.