Teens Offer Opinions of Atlanta's Curfew

WHILE Atlanta's new teen curfew might crimp their style slightly, most of a group of Alonzo Crim High School students interviewed on the subject agree that having to be home by 11 on weeknights or by midnight on weekends is not a bad idea for someone who is 16 years old or younger. The group of ninth- and 10th-graders are all from the tough Kirkwood and Edgewood sections of the city.

These neighborhoods were the scene of two shooting incidents last fall in which children were killed by other children.

The new curfew is a response to those shootings.

Two of the teens interviewed knew one of the shooting victims, a 13-year-old girl.

``I knew the girl in the motel who got killed,'' says Alberta Starr, a 10th-grader. ``But in the first place, why was she there? I'm not saying her parents didn't care. But where were her parents?

``I think the curfew is fair, because if parents can't control kids, the government's got to,'' Miss Starr says.

The curfew provision holding parents responsible for curfew violation, she says, really commands her respect. ``If my mom gets in trouble, then I'll never get to go out.''

Veronica Jelkes, a tall 9th-grader, approves of the curfew in general, but she worries about what might happen ``if you go to a movie at 9 and you don't get out and catch a bus till 11.''

In the group interviewed, Anthony Ford, a 10th-grader, was the lone dissenter.

If his mother insisted that he come home from friends' houses at a certain hour, he would. But she doesn't, and he doesn't see why the government needs to limit his independence.

``To me it's bad because most kids be wanting to go out [at night],'' he says.

But when asked why a teenager would need to be out past midnight, his peers chorused together, ``Yeah, why would he need to be out?''

Anthony just smiled shyly and didn't answer.

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