Parents approve of curfew Council bill aimed at protecting children

November 16, 1993|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,Staff Writer

Howard Thomas is all for the proposed dusk-to-dawn curfew in Baltimore for children 12 and under -- and so is his daughter Rikki Li.

"When it's dark, a child should be at home. Things aren't the way they used to be," Mr. Thomas said yesterday.

"That's true. Near where I live -- and most places -- there's like shooting and stuff. When it's dark, I stay in the house and play Sega [video games] or play in the basement," added Rikki Li, 9.

Mr. Thomas and his daughter were among several parents, students and teachers surveyed yesterday afternoon outside Margaret Brent Elementary School at 26th and St. Paul streets in South Charles Village.

Although some expressed regret that the proposed action was necessary, virtually all of those interviewed supported it.

The proposed curfew for preteens is part of a bill introduced last night in the City Council that is designed in large part to protect children from street violence.

The measure -- sponsored chiefly by City Council President Mary Pat Clarke and council members Martin O'Malley, Sheila Dixon and Anthony J. Ambridge -- drew 11 other co-sponsors last night, giving it far more than the 10-vote majority needed for passage.

The bill would also raise the city curfew age for teen-agers from 15 to 17; move the weeknight curfew from 11 p.m. to 10 p.m.; and fine parents or guardians $50 for first violations and up to $300 for subsequent violations.

Besides helping protect children, sponsors also hope the stricter curfew would make it more difficult for drug dealers to employ children and make parents more responsible.

"We regard it as an emergency measure until we do something about the violence," Ms. Clarke said.

Outside Margaret Brent Elementary yesterday, most of those interviewed seemed to accept that logic.

"There are too many people doing bad things," said Karen Stokes, the mother of three young boys and a distant relative of Tauris Johnson, the 10-year-old whose fatal shooting Nov. 4 led to last night's bill. "Now, kids can't even play outside. But I think the bill's a good idea."

"There was a time I would say no but it seems we have to do something radical," added Yvonne Pitts, a second-grade teacher at Margaret Brent and the mother of two grown children.

In other action last night, the council passed a resolution urging the state to adopt federal Clean Air regulations that minimize the impact on Baltimore-area commuters.

Another resolution asks the Board of Estimates to cancel a contract with British regimental units to perform at the Baltimore Arena Dec. 8 because those units are among those that have fought in Northern Ireland.

Also last night, long-anticipated legislation was introduced establishing a city registry for "domestic partnerships," which would confer legal rights to gay and other nontraditional households.

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