It's 2023, do you know where your children are?
Faced with the dissolution of juvenile curfew laws and a growing problem of shootings at teen parties, the El Paso Police Department is turning to an old-school parenting message: "It's 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?"
The new public service announcement is a reboot of a slogan that aired on many local TV news broadcasts nationwide from the late 1960s to the 1980s. The message is intended to remind parents to keep track of their children.
The El Paso Police Department launched the new PSA on its Instagram account on Sept. 1, the day that juvenile curfews expired because of a law signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
House Bill 1819, which prevents Texas cities and counties from enforcing a curfew, was passed during the 88th Legislative session.
"We're putting the ball in your court, parents! Please stay informed about your kids' activities and keep them safe and sound. It's a team effort," says a voiceover over ominous music on the first version of the El Paso police PSA.
"Let's unite to make El Paso an even safer, more nurturing place for our young stars. Stay sharp and stay safe, El Paso!"
Reaction on social media to the PSA has been mixed, but police officials said they are pleased it is starting a conversation about the role of parenting in relation to crime and safety.
The PSA debuted prior to the deaths of a 14-year-old girl and a 19-year-old man killed in a 1 a.m. shooting that wounded four other teens during a high-school house party in the far East Side Sunday, Sept. 17.
Though the effectiveness of juvenile curfews in reducing crime is questionable, the goal of police officers enforcing curfew wasn't to issue citations but to help get kids home safely, police officials said this week. It is not uncommon for parents to believe their child was at a friend's house while they were actually somewhere else, police said.
The violence associated with underage house parties is a community problem that requires the help of teenagers, their parents and schools, interim El Paso Police Chief Peter Pacillas said Tuesday at a meeting with local news leaders.
The police department is already shifting officers who had been assigned to community service duties to better respond to concerns tied to parties, Pacillas said.
Police officials added that some of the responsibility could be on adults involved in some aspects of the underage gatherings, whether it is buying alcohol or obtaining the short-term rental houses, where some parties take place.
'One life lost is one too many'
The juvenile curfew was an important tool that helped make El Paso one of the safest large cities in the nation, Mayor Oscar Leeser said in a statement.
Last month, Leeser vetoed an unanimous City Council vote that did away with the curfew in keeping with the new Texas law. But the veto may be mostly symbolic since municipal laws don't supersede state law.
"I have received reaction from El Pasoans with serious concerns over the negative impact lifting the curfew would have on our community," Leeser stated in letter to council explaining his veto.
"We have experienced the loss of lives in El Paso in recent years that have changed us and made us more aware of the vulnerability we all face. One life lost is one too many," the mayor stated.
"The risk of recruitment for criminal activity in the late hours of the night, and the availability of immediate life-threatening drugs such as fentanyl is far more prevalent now than in previous generations. Any tool that allows our community to safeguard the safety of our children is a tool worth keeping."
El Paso juvenile curfews cycle over the decades
Since 1991, El Paso had a curfew of 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. for children 16 and younger. There was also a similar curfew in the unincorporated areas of El Paso County that was reinstated last year.
The curfew had exceptions for minors accompanied by their parents, running an errand for their parents, an emergency, working and taking part or returning directly home from an official school, civic or religious activity.
The city of El Paso has initiated juvenile curfews off and on over the decades, including a 9 p.m. curfew in 1915, which was revived to prevent destructive pranks and vandalism on Halloween in 1934.
In 1958, there was a 10 p.m. curfew set after an outbreak of teen crime, including the deaths of two youths and a large gang fight at a drive-in restaurant.
The 1991 curfew was established during an era of rampant street-gang violence and drive-by shootings.
An iconic TV PSA
The origin of the "Do you know where your children are?" phrase is unclear.
Some reports say the slogan originated on Massachusetts radio in 1961 while others claim it began airing at the start of the local TV nightly news in New York or Los Angeles later in the 1960s.
In New York City, the nightly TV promo was sometimes presented by celebrities, such as artist Andy Warhol, baseball star Reggie Jackson and the original "Wonder Woman" herself, Lynda Carter.
The curfew reminder spread to TV sets in cities across the nation.
A TV announcement of "Do you know where your children are?" is mentioned in a "community commercials" brief in the El Paso Times in 1968.
"It's 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?" was ranked by Time magazine as one of the top 10 public service announcements of all time.
The famous phrase has inspired several variations and parodies. In an episode of "The Simpsons" titled "Bart After Dark," Homer Simpson responds to the TV announcement, "I told you last night — no!"
This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: 'Do you know where your children are?' New El Paso police PSA goes retro