Local Child Curfews in the UK — powers provided by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 — allow local authorities or police forces to prevent children under 16 from being in a public place between 9.00 p.m. and 6.00 a.m. unaccompanied by adults (Youth Justice Board website). If children under ten contravene curfews they can be made subject to a Child Safety Order (an early intervention measure designed to prevent antisocial behaviour — Youth Justice Board website). While such legislation has only limited relevance to most young people, it reflects enduring and contradictory anxieties about the need to safeguard innocent children, yet also to protect society from the perceived ravages of untamed youth. Configured in legislative terms and in the figurative aspects of fiction for young people from Tom’s Midnight Garden (1958) by Philippa Pearce to A Monster Calls (2011) by Patrick Ness, such anxieties have a chronotopic dimension, played out in terms of space and time, so that the child is endangered or becomes a threat to adult authority and social order if the bounds of domestic space are transgressed at night.
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