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June 17, 2024

Margate police to penalize parents for unsupervised juveniles breaking curfew

Guardians of violators could face fines up to $1,000 or community service up to 90 hours.

Government Margate
margate ordinance juvenile curfew Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

The Margate City Police Department said it will enforce an ordinance that fines parents and guardians or requires them to do community service if the juvenile in their care is found breaking curfew this summer.

The Margate City Police Department is taking steps to try to prevent unruly behavior by teens on its boardwalks and beaches, an issue many shore towns are facing this summer.

In a post on Facebook last week, police said they will enforce the existing Ordinance 117-4, involving parental responsibility for anyone under 17 who breaks curfew (between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.).

MORE: Wildwood bans backpacks on beaches and boardwalk at night

If authorities observe an unsupervised juvenile during that timeframe engaging in "behavior that is unlawful, puts their safety at risk, or if they ignore lawful commands from officers," they will be transported to the police station. There, a parent or guardian will be called in to take custody of the juvenile, and that responsible adult will be issued a summons and could face a fine of up to $1,000 and community service up to 90 days. The juvenile may also be charged.   

"In the past, MCPD has been able to keep an eye on the crowds with increased manpower and additional patrols, but like in towns up and down the coast, we are pushed to our limit and with the recent highly publicized incidents, we are asking parents to be responsible for the actions of their underage and unsupervised children," the police department wrote on Facebook. 

Ordinance 117 was first adopted in 1976 and was last amended in 1995. There are exceptions for juveniles who are accompanied by a parent or guardian, or if they are on an emergency errand or are employed. 

"We, and other police departments and public officials in the state, have asked parents to better supervise their children over the past few years," Margate police wrote. "To date, those calls have been met with limited, or no, success leading us to take this action to ensure the safety of those in the community."

Also last week, Wildwood's board of commissioners passed an ordinance that bans backpacks on its boardwalk and beaches from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. between May 1 to Sept. 30. Officials say teens have been carrying alcohol and other illegal items in backpacks, contributing to unruly and chaotic activity. 

These latest actions come in the wake of a chaotic kickoff to the summer in South Jersey. Over the Memorial Day weekend, Wildwood declared a state of emergency due to "civil unrest" and "an irrepressible number of calls for service" regarding a large number of young adults and juveniles in the area. Also over Memorial Day weekend, a 15-year-old boy was stabbed on the Ocean City boardwalk.

Unruly groups of juveniles and young adults have caused issues at recent events across South Jersey this month. In Gloucester Township, 12 people were arrested and three police officers were injured on June 1 after hundreds of young people congregated at the Gloucester Township Day community event and began fighting. On June 9 in Pennsauken Township, six people were arrested after a Summer Kick Off fireworks show was cut short due to large groups of young people causing disturbances.

In some places, events are being canceled preemptively to avoid such safety concerns. The June Fete fair scheduled for Montgomery County earlier this month was canceled after Upper Moreland Township denied permit applications due to "current safety and security concerns related to numerous local events."

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