The small Finnish town of Laitila is in the process of introducing a pilot project that enforces an unofficial curfew for school-age children as part of the local government’s effort to fight substance abuse.
Local officials, who are taking the cue from a similar programme in Iceland, will now escort children who are in grades 1-6 home by 7.30pm on school nights, while their older peers should not be out later than 9.00pm. On weekends, the curfew changes to 8.30pm and 11.00pm.
Iceland has enforced similar rules since 1997 in an effort to cut teen alcohol and drug consumption, which has proven to be somewhat successful. Icelandic teens were among the heaviest drinking youths in Europe. The percentage of Icelandic 15-to-16-year olds that have been drunk in the previous month dropped from 42% in 1998 to only 5% in 2016.
Iceland’s curfew was not a standalone policy as it came with a prohibition on selling tobacco to anyone under the age of 18 and alcohol to those under the age of 20. The advertising of both alcohol and tobacco was banned and state funding for organised sports, music, dance, and other clubs was significantly increased.
Enacting similar measures in Finland has proven to be difficult. Throughout the 2000s different Finnish cities experimented with a curfew but it was ultimately ineffective due to parental resistance and the inability of the police to enforce the law.