LESLIE EATON
The Wall Street Journal
March 26, 2009

DALLAS — This city is considering joining a rising number of others across the country that are imposing criminal penalties on kids who skip school to hang out at the mall or on local street corners.

[efoods]Such juvenile daytime curfews to combat truancy and crime are drawing protests from groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and from the parents of homeschooled children who, along with some parents of public-school students, object on grounds that such laws in effect criminalize otherwise law-abiding kids who may have good reasons for not being in school.

Daytime-curfew laws have long been popular in a handful of states, including California and Ohio, and opponents say that they are becoming increasingly common. Benicia, Calif., near San Francisco, began enforcing a curfew in January, and Kennesaw, Ga., north of Atlanta, enacted one earlier this month. Bedford, Texas, near Fort Worth, adopted a curfew last year, and the city council in Philadelphia is set to vote on one Thursday.

In Dallas, the city council will vote next month on extending an existing nighttime curfew for minors to make it broadly illegal for minors under 17 years old to appear in public without adult supervision during school hours. Violators would be subject to a fine up to $500. Parents and businesses that let minors congregate on their premises during school hours also would be subject to a fine up to $500.

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