Parental escorts at malls

Here’s a link to a story on about malls around the country implementing parental escort policies for teens under a certain age:,2933,100209,00.html

I realize that the mall owners are within their rights to refuse service to anyone as the malls are privately owned. But what do they expect kids to do these days? They can’t get into bars, they’re now getting banned from malls, what are they supposed to do, sit home all night on weekends? Heck, if I was in that situation, I’d probably start doing some drugs, hanging out on the corner, maybe vandalizing some homes just to keep from being bored out of my mind. This particular quote from a mall manager especially irks me:

“Older people can sometimes be intimidated just by sheer numbers of teens.”

Well, what if teens don’t like the sheer number of senior citizens? Or someone doesn’t like the sheer number of Asian people at a mall? Should the malls start requiring anyone over the age of 60 to be escorted by someone under 40? Ban all Asians from the mall? Can you imagine the furor if a mall decided to be “white-only”? Jesse Jackson and his ilk would have a field day with that one. But apparently this is ok.

Teens barely have any rights as it is, and I guess the ACLU and their cronies find that just dandy, judging from the silence on their end. BTW, my teenage years ended nearly a decade ago, so I think I’m a fairly objective observer. I know this is kinda a rant, but I want to know everyone’s thoughts on this.

Well, I find myself firmly on both sides of the fence on this one. On the one hand (or foot, I suppose) I know roving packs of aimless teenagers can be a major deterrant to my shopping - quite a few use the unsupervised atmosphere of the mall as a testing ground for bad language and altogether inappropriate behavior. Just recent incidents that come to mind: mocking people, being loud and rude for the sake of being loud and rude, trying on clothes and leaving them in heaps in and around dressing rooms, fiddling with the volume knobs in TV and stereo stores, outrageous public displays of affection, throwing many many many coins into the fountains (or worsed, scooping them out!), playing around with the escalators, and that sort of thing. Plus I think there’s plenty of other activities that teenagers can engage in that are just plain better for them.

On the other hand - it’s where kids like to go, and nowadays kids seem to have a considerable disposable income. The stores cater to them, and it seems a bt like cutting off your nose to spite your face to ban them from the malls.

From the article:

Frankly, this sounds like one of the stupidest business decisions ever made. I’m 27 but still get mistaken for a teenager on occasion, and if anybody carded me at the mall, I’d sure as hell take my business somewhere else. They’re potentially alienating not only their teenaged customers but a great many young-looking twentysomethings as well.

Besides, where else are the kids supposed to go? I can’t think of too many socially sanctioned places for suburban teenagers to hang out, apart from malls, fast food restaurants, and perhaps movie theaters (which are usually in malls). Maybe if they had something more interesting to do they wouldn’t be getting into trouble.

“Older people” are the ones spending most of the money. Teens hanging out are doing just that. Hanging out. That’s why they are listening to the complaints about that specific group.

I don’t think that kids under 12 or so should be in the mall unaccompanied at any time. As for the escorts…it seems that the malls are only wanting escorts on Fridays and Saturdays after 4 PM. I’ve worked in a mall, and I can tell you that some people just let their teens and preteens run wild. A mall isn’t a place to “just hang out”, it’s a place of business. Many teens and preteens have no intention of spending money in the stores or food shops, so why SHOULD they be allowed in the mall?

When I was a teen, yes, I loved going to the mall…BUT I only went when I had some disposable money, and I always spent money on my trips. The escort policy would have annoyed me to no end, too. Now that I’m on the other end of the stick, though, I can see the reasons. We didn’t have the mall culture back then, though, as much as we do today.

I don’t think that malls or any stores are obliged to provide people of whatever age a place to hang out. When one group of people is tearing up stores and making legitimate shoppers uncomfortable, then that group should face the consequences. The teens are not just not spending money, they’re COSTING the malls money when they’re abusing the malls.

In its defense, the ACLU has been fighting for the rights of all Americans for years, and yes, that includes teenagers.

Let me try that again: in its defense, the American Civil Liberties Union has been defending the rights of all Americans for years, and yes, that includes teenagers.

I suppose if there were an actual problem with large numbers of unruly teenagers, and the management couldn’t identify a few specific individuals who they could “ban,” then I guess it’s reasonable… BUT… I’ve NEVER been in a mall that had that kind of problem. So hypothetically it sounds like an OK policy, but in reality, are they overreacting and catering to a bunch of old fogies?

Earl, you’re point is well taken. I agree that the ACLU has done MANY things for the good of all Americans over the years, there just are a few causes they support that I personally believe are idiotic, so that skews my overall opinion of them. They are doing a damn fine job though on many other issues.

If certain teens are causing disruptions and problems, they should be dealt with on an individual basis, not in effect banned as an entire group. In Milwaukee, there was a mall (now defunct) where a sizable minority of African-Americans, mostly adults, would just “hang out” and cause problems. Should that mall have forced all black people to be escorted by a white person after 4pm on Fridays and Saturdays? Same idea, just replace one group with another.

And troub’s assertion that teens don’t have money to spend is WAY off the mark. Just look at the insane amount of money spent on advertising just to lure the lucrative teenage market. Just talk a walk through any mall in America, and look at how many stores cater to the teen market. No cite, just from personal experience, I’m guessing 25-30% of the stores are teen/young adult orientated.


That actually happened with black people in my old hometown (to my great shame). There was a great Thursday night farmer’s market with live entertainment and all sorts of wonderful thing. It In an entertainment starved city that was dieing for some civic pride, people turned out in drove. Unfortunately, this meant young people and gasp black people, not just the white shoppers from the suburbs who city council has been trying to lure downtown for years (while ignoreing the very vibrant and eager people who already live there). They closed down the market, saying they wern’t attracting “families”.

Yeah, teenagers didn’t really belong there. And they don’t really belong hanging out in malls either. But the answer isn’t to shut them out of everyplace they try to go. Do you think teenagers really enjoy loitering? Isn’t it pretty obvious that cities need to take their teenagers into account, and communities need to provide constructive places for teenagers to go? Because if there isn’t anyplace for them to go, they’ll go places that arn’t really suited for them. And if they get kicked out of those places, they will stay home and smoke pot and make out with people, which is exactly what we did when they closed down the Thursday night market.

And yet cities insist on closing down eveyrthing attractive to teenagers. My old town banned skateboarding, refused to build a civic skate park, and shut down the private one. They work to shut down underage venues so that having all-ages concerts (which are basically acts of charity for a venue anyway) became an unworkable liablity. They’d harrass kids for hanging out on the streets and in parks.

In truth, there are precious few valid leisure activities in this country that don’t cost money. We’re fine with teens in movie theaters, lazer-tag venues and clothing stores. It’s when they arn’t spending money that it’s a problem. Although few groups are as disrespected and derided as youth, I reckon that if another group of people became known for not spending money they’d find themselves unwelcome in public as well.

Oddly, my new town with it’s increadably sensible city council doesn’t have that much of a problem with packs of teenagers loitering around its very attractive downtown mall area. They have a convient downtown teen center (and a couple sattalite ones), a civic skate park, after school programs and a few other free, easily accessable, fun places for teenagers to spend their time. With all that, why would a teenager waste all their time hanging out at a mall?

In ten years, these business owners will be sobbing about how they’re going out of business and they can’t understand why. I know the one time I got hassled at a mall, I NEVER went back. Still haven’t.

Is it any wonder that so many teenagers drink, do drugs, and have sex? What the hell else are they supposed to do, if they’re not welcome in coffee houses, clubs, shopping malls, etc? Besides when people constantly treat you as if you’re a menacing ne’er-do-well, you have little incentive not to live up to that image.

Why is everyone whining “but what are kids supposed to DO?!?!” What do you do most nights? You fart around online or watch tv. Kids could rent movies and hang out at each other’s houses, play video games, read a book, ride a bike, go to the park and play a sport. They could start a band, learn a new language, take up a hobby like carpentry or metalwork or sewing. They could learn how to build a computer, or build a motorcycle from scratch. They could learn how to make soap, or candles, or bread. They could do jigsaw puzzles or crossword puzzles or play cards. They could go to the church and play bingo, or learn swing dancing, or go bowling. They could go to a movie, or a sporting event, or the freakin’ Ice Capades if they were that bored.

There are about a million things to do in the world besides sit around in the mall and act like jackasses. I bet if you asked most kids they think the mall is boring and only go because their friends might be there.

If being about 30 is an old fogie, then the malls can cater to me.

It was when I was about 30 that I went to a mall with my then-girlfriend to do a bit of shopping. Packs of teenagers were cruising the mall, and mall management had called in the police to do guard duty. Between the swarms of kids who seemed to be going nowhere except away from the police, and the cops wearing flak vests with sidearms prominent, we didn’t get much shopping done.

And when my ex said “Excuse me” to one teen who was blocking her way into a store, we heard about it from him and his friends for the next few minutes. Apparently, by trying to be polite, she “dissed” him somehow. :rolleyes:

Needless to say, there was little shopping done by us, so mall merchants were out of the funds that we ended up spending elsewhere.

It’s a business decision: if teens who just need a place to hang out are intimidating those who do spend money at the mall and making them spend their money elsewhere, then it’s in the best interest of the mall and its merchants to implement such a policy.

That being said, I believe that there are places other than malls where teens should be able to hang out without causing a problem or inviting police: skate parks (I used to love watching the kids at the local skate park do their thing, knowing full well I never could), bowling alleys and game arcades (when I was a teen, we lived for bowling and pinball), parks, friends’ places, or community centres. For those so inclined, there are church groups, community groups, organized sports and activities, and so on. There must be many other things that young people can do to fill their time other than hanging out at the mall–neither I nor my friends hung out there when we were younger, and I can’t imagine that all the places we spent time at and the things we did are gone now.

IMO an active imagination is lacking in many teens. By this I mean that there are actually many places and thigs teens can do if they would only think about alternatives to just “hanging out” with their friends. To be fair it isnt totally the teens fault either. They have been raised for the most part with many different electonic games and such that to some extent make it so they don’t have to think about other alternatives. I think voguevixen and Spoons had some excelent points.

As far as teens wandering free in malls, I too have seen my fair share of extreamly rowdy behavior from "packs’ of roving teens. But I don’t think this is the norm for teens. For I see far more just going about their own business at malls and not bothering anyone. Sometimes it’s just fun to do some window shopping with friends. IMO it’s the minority of teens that are causing the problem and all teens seem to be getting punished for it.

Well, I have two teenagers (16 and 17) and neither of them is allowed to go to the mall just to hang out. That’s allowed by me, BTW, the malls around here don’t have a policy on it. If they have some shopping to do (and some money to spend), I’ll let them go to the mall, of course. But they don’t need to be hanging out in packs with their cronies, getting in people’s way and, poentially, into trouble. So what do my kids do at night? Well, during the week they mostly stay home and do homework and /or play on the computer and/or watch TV. My daughter loves music and often listens to a CD or the radio in the evening. My son likes to read and often reads a book. He also works out everyday – either with his weights at home or at the nearby YMCA. On the weekends they might go to a movie or a school sporting event. Sometimes they go to a party (if I, party-pooper that I am, have determined that there will be adult supervision there). This is Homecoming season, so each will be going to a dance this month (they attend two different high schools). The YMCA has ‘teen night’ on fridays, so sometimes they go over there. Most Sundays they go to church and sometimes there’s a Youth Group function to attend on sunday night. Sometimes they go to a concert or a school play. My daughter goes to the symphony, opera or theater fairly often – she attends a charter School of the Arts and they have such evening field trips several times a semester. Plus, they sometimes go places with my husband and/or I – either all 4 of us together or in groups of two. My husband takes our son to Richmond twice a year to see the Nascar races and I take him to the library just about every week. My husband takes our daughter to the movies (he’ll take her to see any old crap she wants to see) and I take her to museum exhibits we’re both interested in and any plays or such we’d like to see that she hasn’t already taken in with her class. Frankly, neither of my kids needs access to the mall to keep them off the street or out of trouble.

Yeah, but how many of those teens are spending that money by themselves? I go into those teen-oriented stores plenty with my 14 year old daughter. And most of the other teenagers- at least the ones who are obviously under 16 - have mom or dad with them.

But I wonder how the policy is enforced- is everyone’s id checked at every entrance to the mall? Even the entrance into the mall from the movie theatre or anchor stores? Or is there a cartain amount of discretion involved in asking for ID - perhaps teenagers in large groups are asked for ID, but those alone or in pairs may not be? I ask that because I remember certain malls and individual stores when I was a teenager/young adult having a similar policy. I was never asked for ID, or to leave. But I did see large groups (ten or more) of teenagers asked to leave. It was more of a way to keep large groups out (which can cause problems even if they are not particularly rowdy*) than to actually keep all teenagers out.

  • Groups of teenagers tend to expand to take up all the avaiable space when walking through a mall, leaving little or no room for others to pass or walk in the opposite direction. Also, even if they are shopping, ten teenagers standing in an aisle while one examines an item will block the aisle in a way that two people won’t. Now, adults will do those things too, but adults don’t generally travel in packs.

When I was growing up, the idea that loitering at a freakin’ mall was in any way “something to do” was still an alien concept.

I think that hordes of kids just passing time in a retail setting is symptomatic of a problem, not a solution.

Of course, with all-ages venues being actively discouraged in so many areas, what are you going to do?

It’s pathetic that something as bland as a mall environment is viewed as hang-out at all. It’s a freaking human tragedy. Time spent in a shopping mall is supposed to be either merely tolerated or actively resented. Any other attitude is about it is the manifestation of a troubling pathology of the soul. How could it be otherwise?

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if they changed the hours that school were in session. Let school start at 10:00 am and finish at 5:00pm. Kids who do sports & clubs can do them in the morning instead of after school.

Everyone gets home in time for dinner!

starts humming an old jazz standard

I’ve always wondered myself why they didn’t do that. You kill two birds with one stone: Kids aren’t sleep deprived from getting up at 5:30 to catch their busses, and you don’t have the whole issue of “latchkey” kids with 2-3 hours to kill until their parents get off work.

Although I think the situation the OP is describing happens primarily on weekends or “non-school” nights.

By the way…when I drove past the local bowling alley on my way home from work today I noticed the sign said “Everyone Welcome!” :slight_smile: