Curfew for Teens: Is Malaysia Ready?

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If you look up the word Curfew in any dictionary or Wikipedia, you may be granted a general definition of; “A local rule, or law, imposed upon a population that requires them to be off the streets after a particular time of day, commonly at night or in the evening”.

While, this practice of imposing a curfew law is actually not something new especially with a history that dates back as far as the 10th Century within the Western societies, curfew laws today may not be of the same practical objectives as it was in the past. In the past, curfew laws are generally imposed for the safety and control of the population, regardless of age and status, making it more commonly enforced by higher authorities during the times of war or political riots.

However, in today’s world, though safety is still an objective, curfew laws are more commonly proposed towards the idea of keeping youngsters off the streets at night as to curb both crime rates and misbehaviour praxis among the young generations. It may be imposed by the local authority or a household leader, in hope to build a healthier and better generation of good virtues among its young people.

Curfews may be more customary in some countries than it is in other countries. For example, in the United States almost all of their districts have imposed their own curfew laws on their teens. This may also be true for Australia, Britain, Germany, Iceland or Thailand where such curfew laws have relatively been practiced since early 2000.

However, when Deputy Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah Dr Wan Ismail raised a matter in the Cabinet Committee meeting on Eradicating Drugs (back in January), about implementing a curfew law for those under 18 as an effort to curb social ills among teens, particularly glue sniffing that is gaining in rates, most Malaysians were sadly not too keen on the idea.

According to a quick online poll prepared by The Star, approximately 1400 respondents opposed the idea (49%), in which many suggested for more efforts to be given towards education approach and greater awareness, rather than establishing arbitrary or restrictive laws, criticising the government as being starved for ideas as matters on violating the human rights of children were raised.

Meanwhile, only about 34% of the respondents shared their agreement on the idea, commenting how children has no business nor reasons to be out in the streets so late at night, leaving around 17% respondents having mixed feelings where, though they think the idea seems beneficial, they questioned the practicality of the idea in Malaysia at present.

A respondent, Vincent Cheong, shared, “It is a good curfew law but do we have enough policemen to handle such cases, especially since crimes and social ills are increasing?”

Still, besides addressing the authorities’ serious consideration on issuing the curfew law for those under 18, the DPM also spoke on the concerns of the idea. She said, “We are looking at this policy practised by Iceland as it is a model that we can emulate. It may not be easy to implement but we feel this is necessary and can definitely help prevent young people from being involved in negative activities.”

“It is still at the proposal stage. We have yet to figure out the punitive actions and educational elements that we want to have as part of the law. But what is for sure is we need to ensure our future generation is not addicted to psychotropic products and glue sniffing”.

So, is Malaysia ready for such a law? If it is, let’s hope for a proper implementation and support from both the government and the people as to build a healthier world for generations to come.