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Margate City police to start ticketing parents, guardians of unruly juveniles

Margate cracks down on unruly teens by promising to punish their parents
Margate cracks down on unruly teens by promising to punish their parents 02:28

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Another South Jersey beach town is cracking down on supervising unruly children and teens before the summer season has officially started.

Margate City Police Department announced they'll be enforcing Ordinance 117-4 Parental Responsibility, where from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. officers can intervene when an unsupervised juvenile is "engaging in any behavior that is unlawful, puts their safety at risk, or if they ignore lawful commands from officers attempting to keep them safe."

After recent well publicized events regarding the safety of juveniles in our shore communities, the Margate City Police...

Posted by Margate City Police Department on Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Officers will bring the unsupervised juveniles to the Margate City Police Department, where a parent or guardian will be contacted to pick them up. Police said in the Facebook post above that they'll then issue a summons to the responsible adult and if needed, the juvenile will also be charged with the underlying offense they were caught doing.

A partial description of Ordinance 117-4 explains the acts that will no longer be tolerated. 

"It shall be unlawful for the parent, guardian or other adult person having the care and custody of a minor under the age of 17 years to knowingly permit such minor to loiter, idle, wander, stroll or play in or upon the public streets, highways, roads, alleys, parks, playgrounds, wharves, docks or other public grounds, public places and public buildings, places of amusement and entertainment, vacant lots or any automobile or vehicle or other unsupervised places ... between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. of the following day."

Margate police said they've been calling on parents to better supervise their children for years to no avail, leaving officials to start enforcing the ordinance. 

For the first offense, fines will range from $100 to $1,000 and/or up to 90 days of community service.

There are some exceptions to the curfew. People under 18 are allowed to be out past 10 p.m. if they're accompanied by a guardian or adult, if they have a job or in the case of an emergency.

CBS News Philadelphia reached out to police and Margate's mayor but did not hear back.

Local parents and teens react

Katya Garcia, a mom of three 17-year-old daughters from Marlton, said Monday she was pleased to hear about the decision to hold parents and guardians responsible. 

"That way they're going to have to keep an eye on their kids," Garcia said. "It's tough but they have to."

Vito Mannino, 15, said the fines "might be a bit much for parents who have lower income," but said he understands "where it's coming from."

"It might get some kids a little scared," Mannino said.

But Olga Valez said young people, especially the good ones, deserve a little more freedom during the summer, especially on vacation.

"I think they should go after having more security, more police officers," she said.     

Other towns enact rules

The enforcement of the Parental Responsibility Ordinance was announced on the same day that the City of Wildwood Board of Commissioners approved a ban on backpacks and other large bags on its boardwalks and beaches to combat teenage drug and alcohol abuse. 

The Wildwood backpack ban came less than a month after a 15-year-old was stabbed on the boardwalk in Ocean City by another teen during Memorial Day weekend.

During the holiday weekend, Wildwood issued a state of emergency, citing numerous incidents of civil unrest.

"These kids have little to no respect for anyone," Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano said. "No respect for themselves, no respect for their friends and no respect for police, officials, adults — just a total lack of respect for any form of authority, and it's become an issue where we cannot enforce the laws."

Both Wildwood and Ocean City also have curfews in place to deter unruly teens and large gatherings.

"The problem is we have juveniles who believe that they can't get in trouble for anything they do wrong," Ocean City Councilman Jody Levchuck said.

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