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SERWAN ZANGANA: Roanoke City Teen Curfew Will Fail Because It Ignores Root Causes

Imposing a teen curfew in Roanoke City will not reduce gun violence as the Citizens have already experienced such a rule in the past. Incorrectly defining the problems in Roanoke and ignoring the real factors that cause the shootings in the first place is a big part of the problem. By avoiding the core issues that result in violence among teens in the community, the authorities cannot hope to reduce gun violence.

In many cases, the examples that parents are setting for their children are the same paths they followed when they were  teens. Therefore, safety begins in the home, with the families. However, Roanoke City Mayor Sherman Lea Sr. believes that curfews will protect  teens from gun violence, and sadly the other members of  City Council do not have any better ideas or the courage to attack the actual roots of the problem. 

If the curfew is approved and implemented it would be for teens 16 years and younger: Sundays to Thursdays from 11:00 pm to 5:00 am; Fridays and Saturdays from 12 midnight to 5:00 am. However, we have a  cultural crisis on our hands if adults are not able to keep teens at home without a curfew. Do we really need the Roanoke City Mayor to decide and instruct people on how to protect their teens?

It is obvious, not only in Roanoke but even in Iraq, where I was born and grew up, the reflection of the families can be seen in the children throughout their lives. To be clear, race, ethnicity, and religion do not contribute to violence among teens in the community.  Actually, it is the lifestyle that creates a violent culture which is embraced by one specific group in a community.

Furthermore, separations among families, including divorce, having children out of wedlock, or children from different men and women without being raised by two parents contributes to violence, alcohol, and drugs in society. (source

Unfortunately, all of the above are embedded in Roanoke City, and the lack of courage by Mayor Lea and the other members of  City Council does not allow them to put their finger on the issue and loudly call it out. Otherwise, why should a 16-year-old be out until 11:00 pm anyway? Before discussing a curfew there should be an answer for such a question. 

Neither Mayor Lea nor the other City officials will be able to reduce gun violence in Roanoke. It depends on families that teens arise from. The implementation of family rules rather than Mayor Lea’s rule is what is needed. What teens need is clear explanations of family rules and expectations, and how following those rules will benefit them, rather than more rules from politicians they don’t even know. 

Since the shootings mostly occur among the youth in Roanoke, implementing a curfew will not effectively change the youths’ behaviors and reduce gun violence unless people change their beliefs and return to the traditional lifestyle and morals in raising and guiding their children.

It is unfortunate that most of the shootings, including both the victims and those who commit the shootings, are young blacks in Roanoke. Therefore, to reduce gun violence and save black youths in the community, Lea ought to come up with a better plan than teen curfew which only creates more conflicts between black youths and law enforcement officers. 

Also, implementing a teen curfew would just result in more outcries from the black community against police officers. Without a doubt, the negative results of a curfew will harm the standing of police officers in the public’s eyes and they, the police, will be blamed, not Mayor Lea. 

Gun Violence Prevention Commissioner Nicole Ross has already expressed her concern in an interview with WSLS Channel 10. She thinks the curfew will be another reason for young blacks to be stopped by police.

However, Mayor Lea is just running around in circles as usual. He might be able to push for a curfew, but he definitely is unable to push for the actual steps to reduce gun violence. 

Serwan Zangana supported Operation Iraqi Freedom as a U.S Army translator before coming to the U.S from Kurdistan, Iraq in 1997 to seek political asylum. He was granted asylum status and years later proudly became a U.S citizen. He currently serves as a correction officer in Roanoke.

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