The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East

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The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East

Eastside

The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East

Eastside

Curfews a good start, but not a complete solution for beach chaos

A+swarm+of+teens+flood+the+Ocean+City+boardwalk+on+Memorial+Day+weekend
Courtesy of NBC10 Philadelphia
A swarm of teens flood the Ocean City boardwalk on Memorial Day weekend

For most Cherry Hill residents, the beginning of July signals a time when families and friends spend their summer warmed by the beaming sun, as seagulls call overhead on New Jersey beaches such as Ocean City, Margate City, Seaside Heights and the Wildwoods. With swimmers gliding through the waves, teenagers diving into the sand during volleyball games and groups of people walking along the boardwalk, everything seems to be going smoothly. As the evening approaches, though, large crowds of hostile adolescents gather to engage in violent and illegal activities — smoking, underage drinking and vandalism — disrupting the experiences of countless young children and families who are simply trying to enjoy their time down the shore. 

The frequent disruption on New Jersey beaches at night isn’t new, though. In June 2023, Ocean City responded to the constant havoc by imposing an 11 p.m. curfew for kids younger than 18, banning backpacks on the boardwalk after 8 p.m. and closing the beach at 8 p.m. Some residents were initially skeptical, fearing that the curfew would escalate the chaos, as the 8 p.m. beach closure would influence the crowds to cause trouble on the boardwalk, instead. These speculations were inaccurate, though, as data from the Ocean City Police Department suggests that the 17,000 curbside warnings given in 2022 decreased to around 7,000 in 2023. According to an American Broadcasting Company (ABC) news report, the June 2023 curfew resulted in a more than 58% decrease in citations given to teens relative to 2022. 

The curfews designed to mitigate violence in Ocean City influenced other New Jersey beaches to respond similarly this summer. Unless they are accompanied by an adult, children under 17 in Margate City and children under 18 in Seaside Heights are, starting at 10 p.m., banned from public places until 6 a.m. and 5 a.m., respectively. Parents or guardians who knowingly leave their children unsupervised in Margate and Seaside receive fines of up to $1,000. Similarly, in North Wildwood, teens must abide by curfews between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., with fines up to $1,500 if violated. North Wildwood, similar to Ocean City, prohibits backpacks on the beach and boardwalk from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., excluding baby bags and medical bags.  

On all of the aforementioned beaches, their respective curfews have yielded positive results in alleviating the dangerous activities that formerly occurred. These curfews allow young children and families to safely enjoy their beach experiences. Increased police presence and tightened fines have mostly proven effective in limiting hostile behavior on New Jersey beaches, too. 

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“I think [the curfews] are effective in ensuring kids don’t congregate in public places,” said Jessica Gomel-Veksland, a Cherry Hill resident who also resides in Margate during the summer. 

While this solution has proven beneficial in reducing violence, it hasn’t eliminated the problem entirely; violent and illegal activities still ensue. The New Jersey beaches encountered disruptive and violent activity over the Memorial Day weekend: a 15-year-old was stabbed in Ocean City, causing pugnacious crowds to surge the boardwalk and prompt a state of emergency. 

Clearly, inappropriate and illegal activity still occurs frequently on these beaches, and the curfews represent a temporary band-aid to a larger issue: dangerous youth behavior. Are these newly implemented curfews ineffective, or is it simply impossible to quell the actions of these hostile kids?

“I don’t feel like [the curfews] eliminate underage drinking or drug use. The [drinking and] use just moves indoors,” said Gomel-Veksland. 

Of course, the presence of these curfews has proven beneficial, but it’s simply not enough. While the majority of the violence occurs at night, the curfews still fail to address potential problems during the day. Therefore, in addition to ensuring that all people on the beach abide by the newly implemented curfews, a greater emphasis on the availability of age-appropriate activities to occupy teens is essential. 

“The real problem is the lack of businesses and activities geared toward the teenager and under-21 crowd,” said Gomel-Veksland. 

Beach patrol presence must also be increased and consequences must be stricter. After all, in most cases, the $1,000 fines that most New Jersey beaches have enforced minimally impact the kids causing the chaos; it only affects their parents. Instead, those committing the violence should receive consequences that affect them more directly, such as community service and restorative justice requirements, diversion programs, and, if necessary, juvenile probation. 

In general, the New Jersey beach curfews are necessary to limit violence and chaos among young adults and kids, but they don’t solve the problem in its entirety. A greater emphasis on teen activities, increasing police patrol presence and implementing stricter consequences would contribute toward resolving this issue, too, allowing Cherry Hill residents and other beachgoers to safely enjoy their time at the Jersey Shore. 

 

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About the Contributor
Landon Schuster
Landon Schuster, Eastside Online News Editor
Landon Schuster is currently a sophomore and the Eastside Online News Editor. Along with being a first-year member of the Eastside Editorial Board, Landon enjoys playing tennis for the East Boys Varsity Tennis Team, serving as the President of the Cherry Hill Chapter of the non-profit organization, KUTE, and participating in DECA as well as FOP. Landon also enjoys playing saxophone, watching sports, and spending time with family and friends.

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