BALTIMORE -- It's after 1:30 a.m. on a recent Friday night, and Baltimore's juvenile curfew center is buzzing. One by one or together in groups, children who are out beyond the midnight weekend curfew are being brought in by police. In a side room where records are checked, the youngest strike up a conversation.
"How you get caught?" the 10-year-old boy asks.
"I walked to the store," the shy 8-year-old seated to his left says. "As soon as I got out, police said 'Come here.' "
Asked by a reporter if he is scared to be walking around his East Baltimore neighborhood so late at night, the 8-year-old, who says his name is Khalil, shakes his head no. "There's a lot of kids out," he replies.
Baltimore's curfew center began four years ago -- a collaborative effort among police, the school system, and social services -- to get kids off the street and away from potential harm.
Their work has taken on a new urgency as other cities grapple with so-called "flash robs," most notably Philadelphia, which moved up its curfew to 9 p.m. in hopes of combating large, roving groups of young people who caused mayhem there.