A Curfew for Young Finnish People

A Curfew for Young Finnish People

The town of Laitila in south-west Finland has recently introduced an evening curfew on children and teenagers of school age to improve their sleep patterns and family life. The town has a population of around 8,000, and according to reports, it enjoys broad support of the people despite some feeling it is an overreach and overreaction to smaller issues.

Under the curfew children between 7 and 13 should not be outdoors after 7.30pm, whereas older teenagers have a limit of 9 pm before they have to be back home. These times are based on age but also cooperation and consultation with local parents to get a time that would be firm but fair.

Laitila’s head of education has said the curfew is “informal and depends on the cooperation of the townspeople” and he furtherly said, “that the basic aim is to alert parents to the welfare of children and young people, and to celebrate the family evening together”. In trying this curfew, more emphasis can be put on evening family time and after-school study instead of the teenagers being out late and maybe doing things they shouldn’t be for that age. Also, in being home earlier, the teenagers can also be asleep earlier than they would if they were out meaning they are better prepared and ready for school the next morning.

The Laitila plan resembles a similar recent 1997 curfew in Iceland which has been heavily credited with cutting underage drink and drugs problems in that country, and that there have been more recent attempts at similar schemes elsewhere in Finland in Lammi and Vantaa. A vital point of this curfew is that although it is being implemented, it isn’t legally enforceable because it was determined that a curfew enforced by law and the police would lack legal grounds and possibly be in violation of human rights law.

We will wait to see how well this curfew goes in Finland but Pipsa Kaikkonen an 18-year-old member of the Youth Council in the city of Porvoo, says that "It is probably well-meant, but I feel that many young people would think it restrictive and a violation of their rights and freedom at least".

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