Summer Safety Initiative: Overnight youth curfew in effect for the city of Newark

Children age 17 and younger will no longer be allowed out unsupervised from 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

Joti Rekhi

May 3, 2024, 9:57 PM

Updated 23 days ago

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The city of Newark began its youth curfew Friday night, prohibiting minors from being outside unsupervised from 11 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. The new program, named the Summer Safety Initiative, initially will be in effect on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Once the school year ends on June 21, it will expand to all seven days.
“It's not about criminalizing young people or making it seem like they're negligent in some sort of way,” said Barry Ford, assistant deputy mayor for Public Safety and Strategic Initiatives for the city of Newark. “It's more so to keep them safe and get them into their homes and safe places so that we can ensure that nothing happens to them.”
It's been several years since a curfew has been put in place in the Brick City. Ford said there is now social support for the program. He said keeping children safe and off the streets will be a collaborative process. The initiative brings together the mayor's office, the Department of Public Safety, and the Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery.
“Tonight when we go out, we'll be looking for how many young people are out there. So we have a sense of the capacity of the staff we need,” said Ford. “[We also want] to see how the systems work. What is the response? How are young people feeling in terms of how we're engaging them?”
Newark residents are mostly supportive of the program. However, some are unsure about what sort of response it will have from youth.
"It will protect a lot of children. We know in the summertime usually youth crime increases, so it's definitely needed," said Newark resident Jodi Duhaney.
"I think kids who are 14, 15, especially at that age on a Friday and Saturday, it might be an issue," said resident Ivan Mitchell.
The goal is to bring the children back to their respective homes. If that isn't a safe space for them, steps will be taken to provide them with resources through the re-engagement center. “When the team goes out at night, it's a community service officer, one of our social workers, as well as one of our outreach workers,” said Ford. “And we're having conversations. I want to be very clear, these are not about offenses, these are about engagement and youth development.”
The initiative also includes workforce development, educational programming and activities for children to partake in.
Jodi Duhaney is a parent, Newark resident and social worker who has a firsthand understanding of what the city is trying to accomplish through her own work in New York City.
She said sometimes behavioral issues sometimes result when there are issues in a child’s home.
“The adults in some of these kids' lives are not available. They're just not as engaged with their young people,” said Duhaney. “So the kids end up going outside, hanging with friends and getting in trouble that way. And so I think additional supervision is needed.”
Over the course of the next month, the team will be looking at how this initiative can be improved and adjust accordingly.


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