Two months after the Quantico Town Council imposed a curfew on teenagers, the Virginia town's 760 residents are still waging a generational battle over the issue.

Everyone agrees that the tiny town, next to the Potomac 35 miles south of Washington and surrounded by Quantico Marine Base, had a problem this summer: Car windows were smashed, picnic tables were dumped into the harbor and several 13- and 14-year-old girls began dressing up beyond their years and roaming the streets until 3 a.m. with young Marines.

The four-man town police force and the Town Council decided in September that a 10 p.m. curfew would solve the problems.

"Those children don't have to be out late at night . . . . They've got enough to do," Mayor Howard Bolognese, 70, said recently.

Town police said the vandalism and the late-night roaming have stopped since the curfew was enacted.

"Now we don't have a problem. Word gets around pretty fast," Police Chief Leo Rodriguez said.

But town teenagers and some adults argue that school and colder weather, not the curfew, have limited the appeal of late-night roaming.

"The whole thing dropped off when school started back up," said Darin Alperin, 23, manager of Al'z Dogz, a local restaurant.

The curfew, critics say, merely gives the police an excuse to harass teenagers and doesn't solve the underlying problem: that there isn't enough for the town's 130 minors to do.

The American Civil Liberties Union says that the law is overly broad and unconstitutional. According to the law, no one under the age of 18 can be on the streets "unless performing a necessary errand or any other lawful activity for which a good account may be given." A violation carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a fine that the council voted this week to reduce from $300 to $100.

The law, which requires police to warn violators first, has not been challenged in court.

Mary Ellen Henderson, 12, said she had a run-in with a town police officer on her way home from a baby-sitting job. "My mom had called and told {the police} that I would be late, but they stopped me," she said.

Although the police eventually let her go home, Mary Ellen said she is still angry about the experience. "They're a bunch of old fogies who want things their way."

Quantico has no churches, no schools and no supermarket. The 11 restaurants don't admit people under 18 in the evening. "I have a lot of Marines {as customers} and they don't feel like hearing {children} crying and whining," Alperin said.

Children whose parents are in the military can go to the Marine Base's movie theater and game room, but everyone else is out of luck.

"All we have is volleyball and it's getting too cold," said Carolyn Michelle Sutherland, 16.

Younger adults said the Town Council -- where the average age is mid-sixties -- has shown little or no interest in providing alternatives for the teenagers. They said the council's decision Thursday night to ban skateboards from Potomac Avenue, the town's main drag, will exacerbate the problem.

However, the town's many older residents said they don't understand why teenagers are complaining. "My daughters grew up here and had a great time," said town clerk Georgia Raftellis, whose husband is a member of the Town Council.

Parents of teens said they feel caught in a bind. They want to keep adolescents safe and out of trouble, but the curfew limits their ability to make appropriate rules for their children.

"It takes the responsibility out of the home . . . . I get out and look for mine if I don't feel she's home on time," said V. Lee Sutherland, who has a 16-year-old daughter. At the same time, Sutherland said, "If it helps somebody's kid, then maybe {the curfew} is a good thing."

Some other Virginia towns have similar curfews, including Manassas. According to police there, curfews are useful primarily for giving police the authority to take teenagers home.

"I cannot recall a conviction on a curfew violation," said Manassas police spokesman Mark Wolverton.

In Quantico, no children have been arrested, but two adults, Carol Blowers, 21, and Washington Post reporter Michael Ybarra, 23, were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor in connection with alleged curfew violations. In both cases, the charges were dropped but could be reinstated if additional infractions occur.

ACLU officials said they hope the Quantico curfew will fall into disuse. "But if there's a problem we will have to go after it," lawyer Greg Stambaugh said.