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The Debate: Teen Curfews

Move over teens: Malls are for parents with toddlers, not you. That's the message that about 40 malls around the country are giving teenagers who try to hang around the mall without a parent on Friday and Saturday nights. Tired of teen fights and other behavior unbecoming the family retail experience, malls such as St. Louis Mills and St. Louis Galleria are telling kids ages 16 and under to find a new hangout.

According to the Associated Press story, "Malls say the policies are improving the environment on weekend nights. Some report that stroller rentals are up on weekend evenings, a sign that families are visiting in higher numbers."

This latest round of curfews follows a controversial citywide block in Washington, D.C., last summer barring youths younger than 17 from being on the streets past 10 p.m. The mall experiment was first tried at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., which calls its longtime policy a success.

Once again, it's an issue of control. Retailers want the fights to stop. The only way they can devise is to kick every kid out of the place, even the ones not causing problems. So, what's a teen to do? Where do your kids go on Friday and Saturday nights? Do you approve or disapprove of these curfews?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  April 6, 2007; 6:30 AM ET  | Category:  Teens
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Clearly, the malls have the right to do what they want and to decide what's best for business, but these curfews seem extreme. One of the malls you mention bans unsupervised kids after 3 pm, hardly a time when you'd expect the kids to be home in bed.

I worry that attempts to restrict the places that younger teenagers can lawfully hang out will contribute to a sense among smaller-town kids that there's nothing for them to do for fun in their towns. When I was a kid (and, for that matter, a college student), the common rationale for drinking parties was that "there's nothing else to do here." These curfews seem to take a step in making that excuse more valid.

That said, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea of young teens (under 16) being allowed to hang out at the mall unsupervised. I didn't get to be at the mall without a parent until I was almost 18, and that was only because I got a job there.

Posted by: NewSAHM | April 6, 2007 8:05 AM | Report abuse

I understand that the malls have the power to do what they want, but I have to say that I think this is an extreme and unnecessary policy. Maybe it's because I hail from central New Jersey, which has a lot of malls (I grew up about 30-45 minutes away from 4 large malls)..... but I think I probably spent more Friday and Saturday nights at the mall than I did at home between 8th grade and my senior year (when I worked at the mall). I don't think we were very intimidating... the mall was just somewhere to go in our small suburban town where we could see friends and check out boys. The other places kids hung out included the Dunkin Donuts (where kids annoyed the staff my taking up seats for hours while eating only a donut) and the parking lot of the 7-11 (where you could get your choice of drugs) Compared to those options, the mall was our best bet -- and although its been a little over a decade since I've hung out at the mall, I can't imagine too much has changed in towns like mine.

Posted by: Silver Spring | April 6, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

It stinks that it has come to this, especially for the good kids. I remember going to the mall, unsupervised, with friends when I was about 15, in suburbia, and it was an easy, fun, safe place to just get food, walk around, and talk. But I don't blame the malls, I blame the parents. What else is the mall going to do when parents don't A) give their kids reasonable curfews, or B) teach their kids to have respect for others/property and be responsible and well behaved. If parents don't recognize that kids, including teenagers, need rules and consequences for their actions, more and more places are going to be forced to do this.

Posted by: rock-mall-hardplace | April 6, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

The big problem is that the malls have gotten bigger, and so have the groups of kids that hang out. And, to be honest, these kids do things that most of us would never have dreamt of doing. I have a 15 year old girl who can go the mall with a carefully chosen groups of friends but also with lots of rules and the like. We actually require that they take a few guys along with them (there is usually a group of 6) because groups of just girls get too much unwanted attention.

Posted by: Karen | April 6, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

The problem with the curfew is where will it send our kids? If they can't go to the mall to "hangout" they are going to end up in a field or basement somewhere drinking because there is nothing else to do. The thing is, these teenagers they are banning have a lot of buying power that they will be banning. Particular in the Washington, DC metro area that is so extremely wealthy. Also...isn't it ironic how many of these teens are working in all of the stores at the malls. Apparently they are good enough to work there, but not good enough to shop there. Some message they are sending their employees!!

Posted by: HappyDad | April 6, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Several common points along the lines of "The problem with the curfew is where will it send our kids?"

Well, if parents were being parents, they'd know where their kids were. There's no excuse for bad parenting and no amount of laws will fix it.

I heartily agree with these malls using policies to make their business more attractive to families and adults. The teens may "hang out" there but they are most likely not spending a lot of money. Frankly, it's a business decision and the malls should be allowed to do what is necesary to increase their bottom line.

Posted by: subbob | April 6, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Businesses are not required to raise our children for us. Businesses are in business to make money. If having groups of unsupervised teens milling around decreases the number of customers frequenting the malls, then they have the right to request supervision of the teens.

Posted by: BAHB | April 6, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Several people have pointed out that the malls have the right to ban teenagers if they are problematic. That may be the case - I certainly would be surprised if anyone argued the point.

Nevertheless, I also want to suggest that these nameless, faceless malls are actually run by people, adults who are members of these teenagers' communities. These adults do have a responsibility to these teenagers. We all have responsibility to the young people in our communities - even if we are not their individual parents - to make sure they have a safe, appropriate place to be.

So why not gather the teenagers together and have them work with the malls to create a space within the mall that can be theirs. The teenagers can help create the space, so they'll have ownership over it and be more likely to use is. The mall can supply a couple of "House Mothers" or something similar, and sell food and sodas and ice-cream to cover the cost. This would be a serious gift to the community, and has the potential to create some seriously good PR, while the current trend is creating some seriously negative PR among teenagers (who are, after all, the shoppers of tomorrow).

Karen Rayne

Posted by: Karen Rayne | April 6, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

There is another alternative. The mall owners could, in fact, probably make a go of creating a mall - complete with clothing stores, eateries, movie theatres, etc. JUST FOR KIDS. It would be supervised and it would be SAFE - but it would NOT allow mixed families to be there. I know that's probably a little far-fetched, but I think that if some version of the idea were worked on long enough, it might be the solution that everyone is looking for.

Posted by: Edmond Bertrand | April 6, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Karen, replace the word "adult" in your posting with the word "parent" and I'd agree with you. There's no reason the parents should be offloading their kids to the point where the kids HAVE to rely on the malls for supervision. But as usual, we are too wrapped up in ourselves to want to bother with our offspring.

Posted by: StudentMom | April 6, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

What this article doesn't mention is all the reasons the Galleria has decided to do this. I live 10 minutes from the Galleria and have watched the local news about it. The two fights mentioned were large, police had to be called in, employees were leaving their stores for their own safety, and there were other smaller incidences (small fights) that were not mentioned in the article including one that went to the parking lot and was starting to vandalize cars. The Galleria used to be the most upscale mall in St. Louis, but with the addition of a Metro stop in August, the mall has seen an increase of teenagers from Illinois and other places, people that would not have been there earlier. Those are the people causing the problems, but unfortunately all teenagers are getting grouped together. However I think this is a reasonable policy because if something is not done the mall will go down in quality as the one of a kind stores will leave, which will decrease the amount of people that go there setting off a downward spiral ultimately hurting the economy. Also know that when they say "St. Louis suburb called Richmond Heights", Richmond Heights is a small independent city with it's own library, school system whose main source of economy is this mall. It's different than VA where each county has its own school system and economic growth isn't spread out.

Posted by: celoplyr | April 6, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

cloplyr, Many middle class people in St. Louis have been complaining for years that new Metrolink stations only bring trouble. That has been St. Charles' County argument forever. This incident will be used to, unfortunately, confirm that idea.

The St. Louis Galleria is the last place I would have expected this.

Posted by: bkp | April 6, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

All for it. There are plenty of activities for kids to do that don't involve hanging out at a mall. Rollerskating, arcades, theaters, plays, sports...sure some of these cost money, but there are a lot of activities that don't it just takes some creativity and motivation -- heck, read the weekend section in The Post! Hanging out at a mall is the least common denominiator and is the social equivalent of a couch potato. Do we really want our kids spending time in an overloaded commercial buy,buy,buy atmosphere? Maybe just maybe this will encourage higher value activites and parent involvement.

Posted by: shaun doherty | April 6, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

My daughter started going to the mall with a friend since the age of 11. One of the parents would stay at the mall, but not with the girls. The girls had a parent's phone so they could stay in touch. They window-shopped and bought a few small trinkets at stores where, frankly, the parents would rather not be (think Claires). They walked around feeling independent. They ate at the food court.

They were allowed to go with a friend without a parent in the mall starting at age 13.

My children going to the mall actually brings more business to the stores because if they could only go with me, less money would be spent. I don't want to be at the mall, so we would be in and out or not there at all.

I understand that the malls don't want customers driven away because of problem teens, but I don't think a ban is the answer. I would rather see increased security and a limit on the size of the groups, for example, no more than 6 teens together.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 6, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I'm all for it. Though I should say I was annoyed by kids hanging around in the mall even when I was one. Growing up in a fairly rural area, we always had SOMEWHERE to go other than the mall -- movie theatre, friend's house, sports complex (paintball and laser tag and batting cages) and such. It is a shame for the kids and teens who don't act out and drive away adults, but nobody's saying they can't be there, just that they can't be there without parents. And on nights and weekends, I don't think that's at all unreasonable.

Posted by: Rockville, MD | April 6, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Wah! When I was a teen, there were no malls in my rural area of the USA. WAH! I had to make my own fun. Wah! Wah! Wah!

Poor kids today--banned from the mall. Awwwwww! Boo-f-'ing-hoo.

Posted by: ph | April 6, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Why, why why do most people choose to support business rights over the rights of individuals? Stop letting these places tell you who can be where ans SPEAK UP! If groups of teens are causing problems, those teens should be punished, and those not causing problems should be allowed to go about their shopping/walking/hanging out. Malls are intended to be open, public spaces where all members of the community are allowed to convene. I bet if the mall started banning the elderly between 7 and 11 every morning because they walk slowly and get in everyone's way, there would be an uprising from this group. When I was a teenager, I was endlessly frustrated with the disenfranchisement I experienced, as well as the disrespect and pre-judging. Stop letting the few negative experiences you have taint your feelings toward an entire group of people. Please, realize that these businesses are interested in so much more than making money -- they want to control as much of your life as possible. Don't give them the power to control things like this -- maybe one day they'll come for your group.

Posted by: scout | April 6, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Just FYI Scout, Malls are not "intended to be open, public spaces," they are privately owned. As such, their owners are able to limit who may or may not have access to the space.

Posted by: Lawyer | April 6, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

The limitation on group size sounds like more trouble than it would be worth. If there are ten teenagers in a store, are they a group of ten or five groups of two?

If there is a cluster of about 20 in the food court, what is the proper response to kids who say, "Oh, we're not with them"?

Should security guards or other monitors be responsible for sorting out the cliques in what looks like a group of teens?

What if a group of, say, eight teenage girls mingle while they're in stores but split into two units of four and keep fifteen or twenty feet apart while they walk between stores? What is minimum distance between two groups before they are considered a single group and banned from the mall?

What mall employee wants to keep tabs on two teenagers who enter to see if they meet up with others? What if these two encounter four or five others and they talk for five minutes or ten? At what point would they be considered a new large (and banned)group instead of the two original separate groups?

Posted by: Pubrun | April 6, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

In most places in the U.S., teens in the mall are not a problem. But other places, such as DC, they just commit crimes - violent ones at that. Kick out the thugs.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 6, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

We didn't have a mall anywhere near where I grew up. So we had keg parties in a field. Pretty much every weekend. My first kegger was at 13. Hooked up and drank, drank and hooked up. Good times.

Kids will find other places to cause trouble or do whatever it is they want to do.

Posted by: Rural Chick | April 6, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

"Just FYI Scout, Malls are not "intended to be open, public spaces," they are privately owned. As such, their owners are able to limit who may or may not have access to the space."

That is partially true, but malls are places of public accommodation and cannot exclude everyone they may want to exclude. For example, they may not ban persons of color.

Posted by: to Lawyer | April 6, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

My friends and I would go roam around the mall from about age 12 or 13. We usually shopped for clothes and ate food.

Now, there is a lot of youth gang activity at one of the malls in my town, and the gangs used to meet at the mall and intimidate customers. People legitimately at the mall stopped going. In order to get rid of the gangs and criminals, they had to ban unescorted teens. Since then, it has been relatively peaceful, although there are still some scary looking people who are older than 18.

I do feel bad for the kids who can't go because there were some bad people, but I wouldn't have let my kid go to that mall alone in a million years anyway.

Posted by: catmommy | April 6, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

This is straight age-based discrimination. As another poster mentioned, banning 16 year olds from shopping at the same centers where they toil daily is about as fair as banning old folks or those with kids, or people of a particular ethnic group or social status. These kids should stage a lunch counter sit-in and demand to be served. I would hope that when faced with a task such as buying socks at the mall, 16 year olds will be able to use their life skills to complete the task.

Discrimination based on age is widening in our society. I found that some banks will not offer regular services to 16 year olds, either. In my own days as a Washington Post newspaper carrier, essentially an independent contractor operating my own business, I obtained banking services at age twelve, deposited the collections and wrote checks for the papers. Why are we allowing young folks the opportunity to join pleasant society? What is the alternative, demand that they live in an underground society?

Posted by: Citizen | April 6, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

The BIG Mall in Tysons has hordes of tweens and middle school kids dropped off every Friday and Sat night that simply roam. They are totally unsupervised and spend little or no money. In fact they obstruct shopping for people who intend to make purchases. They are making out etc in family bathrooms and ruining movies by loud , obnoxious , and innapropriate behavior. Many are there until the last movie gets out. That crew even has parenst who allow parties at their homes with 12-1 am pickups. Since they do not arrive at the mall on foot or via public transportation the parents can keep them at home. Are they drinking? Who knows what they do when they wander outside to the parking lots and garages. The Mclean Firehouse has 7th graders. Now that group goes to the Mall.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 6, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

So what if it's age-based discrimination? Everyone discriminates. An older guy asked me out once when I was in college and I said no. Wanna sue me too?

Posted by: StudentMom | April 6, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I wish our local mall would do it. A visit to the mall with our kids on Friday or Saturday night isn't even in the picture now-a-days with the screaming, running, swearing, and the public vertical lovemaking. Sorry, i don't want to see or more importantly hear your kids acting like animals, kick them out

Posted by: Chet | April 6, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Why is ot okay for 15, 16, and 17 year olds to work at the mall, and provide these businesses cheap labor without which they would og out of business...but it is not ok for the same kids to come to the mall after work and socialize with their friends and spend money? Yes some kids are disruptive, but a vast majority are not. Deal with the bad ones on a case by case basis and don't kick them all out.

What if it turns out that 18-25 males do a bulk of the shoplifting in malls...should we kick them all out too? Just ask yourself where this slippery slope can go.

And by the way, "lawyer" I agree that these are not public spaces but legally they are places of public accomodation and may not discriminate. But we should all be able to agree that malls are the town squares of 50 years ago and it is bad business to ban any class of people from your town square.

Posted by: HappyDad | April 6, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Maybe if their parents taught them how to behave this would not be necessary.

Posted by: Steve | April 6, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Malls are commercial properties. The goal of each and every commercial property owner in this country is to make money. This is not necessarily as crass as it may sound, either. Commercial property owners include the likes of pension funds, for example, so that if the property does not do well financially, the people who will ultimately be affected are ordinary people like you and me who think that our pension funds (or whatever) are earning us the money that will support us in our old age. Don't criticize the mall owners for doing what they have to do to protect their investment.

The other side of this is that our communities do have a responsibility to the young people who live in them. Parents should take the lead in this regard, but schools, churches and other places of worship, and community groups have a role to play, as well.

The upshot of all this is that children and adolescents should not simply be dropped off at the mall and left to their own devices. The adults in their lives need to be involved with them.

Posted by: Property Manager | April 6, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I will challenge the comment that "most malls" are fine, but "DC" is an issue. When I was last at my grandmother's place in Ohio I was approached by 3 different con men/women who looked exactly like meth addicts hanging out at different locations- my relatives said the entire rural rust belt is awash in meth-related crime including Amish drug dealers (out on Rumspringa) and the Gangster Disciples gang, which came from Chicago to take over BF Indiana. The explosion of crystal meth in rural areas has completely changed the location of crime. Anyone who thinks the problem is in cities is stuck in a 1989 crack war- the FBI will tell you the real Juvenile Delinquency problem is in the exurbs and rural areas where meth and rifles are prevalent. In my grandmother's rural community there have been 3 meth murders in 5 years and frequent barn arson against rival labs.

Posted by: DCer | April 6, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Well, if parents were being parents, they'd know where their kids were. There's no excuse for bad parenting and no amount of laws will fix it.

yawn. When I was an honor student and I lied to my parents about where I was, where were they? My parents forbade me to go to bars, but the Ramones only played in College Park once and that was 1979 and I was 13 and I got myself squeezed into that club, the Varsity Grill, and am a better person for it and yes, we made it to the sleepover... eventually.

Posted by: DCer | April 6, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

All for it. There are plenty of activities for kids to do that don't involve hanging out at a mall. Rollerskating, arcades, theaters, plays, sports...sure some of these cost money,
Rollerskating: roller rinks around here are in shopping centers
Arcades: are all gone in 2007 but there are a few machines left in malls
theaters: all are in malls

aren't you getting the kids back to the malls awfully quickly?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 6, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Abutar....with comments like that you will not be very welcome on these boards and if that is how you feel you should consider moving back to where you came from.

Posted by: HappyDad | April 6, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Why are so many people associating kids at the mall with bad parenting. We are not talking about toddlers and elementary school kids here. I don't know about you...but when I was 15 and 16 I was not spending all of my time with my parents. Part of adolesence is learning how to be independent and to do things on your own. it is natural that teens will want to go and hangout with other teens in a safe environment. A mall provides that type of setting and I would much prefer the kids be there than wandering the streets after dark. But I vigorously disagree that teens alone at a mall is a sign of bad parenting.

Posted by: HappyDad | April 6, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Guys...seriously. Don't fight racism with racism. Sanjay is probably some bored white 19 year-old George Washington student who wants to start a flame war on this blog. Let's all ignore him and he'll go away. Agreed?

Posted by: b | April 6, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

One of the core arguments of this debate seems to be about discrimination...and that fact demonstrates a misunderstanding about what exactly "discrimination" is. In this country it is not wholly illegal to discriminate against groups, it is merely illegal to discriminate against lawfully recognized groups. This includes race, religion, gender, etc., but I know of no law that prohibits barring rights to young adults and children. If that were the case then I could take a kid in front of the supreme court and say that it is illegal to not give him the opportunity for a drivers license...after all, the only thing keeping a 12 year old from getting behind the wheel of a car is his age. Furthermore, malls ARE private businesses, so they have every right to give kids under 16 the old heave ho. There is no law preventing this, and frankly it makes a wise business decision. I remember being a teen and going to the mall, and it certainly wasn't to buy anything. I actually don't much like this solution, but it makes sense, and there is no law or protection provided by the law to prevent mall owners from doing this.

Posted by: Kevin | April 6, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Wow, one would think that the only thing for kids to do is hang at a mall. How about the new ice rink in Ballston ? Or better yet, how about if parents got off their high horses about drinking and let kids have beer at parties like when they themselves were teens ?

Posted by: Rillings | April 6, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm choosing to ignore the offensive comments re: women and Jews . . . . hoping that the poster was a pathetic jokester of some sort.

One of the other posters is right not, however. People "discriminate" all the time. Only certain recognized groups are protected. Anyone under the age of 40 is not protected against age discrimination. You can be banned or treated differently b/c of your age.

I must admit that I personally feel limited outrage here. But, then again, as a teen (and now actually) I never really loitered at the mall. I was (and am) in an out as fast as possible. I was far too busy with school, extracurricular activities, and hobbies. I find it difficult to believe that kids today (oh geez, did I just say that?) cannot find something more interesting and/or worthwhile to do that just hang out at the mall. How Booooring!!!!

Posted by: JS | April 6, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry, teens will be barred from ice rinks too, soon enough.

It's interesting - juvenile crime rates have been on the decline in recent years. Our generation was likely far more violent and destructive, overall, than the current crop of American youth.

Posted by: to Rillings | April 6, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

When did the current generation of parents become so prudish ? And more importantly, why ? If kids have nothing to do, they'll find ways to cause trouble. I did, and so did all my friends. Why not nip the problems in the bud and let kids have beer parties, supervised and with a strict ruleset in place about driving to/from the party ? Every other generation of teens survived, so why assume the current generation won't ?

Lighten up parents. Your kids are going to drink, smoke dope, and have sex. The best you can hope for is to get them through the tough years without seeing them make some irrevocably poor choices. Supervised situations, even with alcohol present, are better than just dropping them off at a shopping mall.

Posted by: Rillings | April 6, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Sure, the mall restrictions are age discriminatory, but they're not unprecedented. Some states limit the number of teenagers in a car driven by a teen or set nighttime curfews for teens at the wheel. Legal drinking ages outlaw the purchase of alcohol by teenagers. Most businesses will not rent cars to drivers under age 25.

Teenagers at the malls aren't banned entirely, for life, or out of some irrational prejudice. I would wager all of the malls that have restrictions enacted them because repeated problems involving teenagers arose.

The argument about how it's wrong to punish the good for a few bad apples doesn't hold much water. The people affected (teens) are being inconvenienced, not imprisoned.

Public life has many examples of the inconveniencing of the many because of the bad actions of the few. State parks require my small, sweet, geriatric dog to be on a leash because some dogs attack other people and animals. It's a fair rule because park officials should not have the responsibility of judging the character of individual dogs before deciding which ones should be leashed. A number of high schools require all students to carry clear backpacks because some students try to take things they should not to school. Airport security prohibits passengers from carrying nail clippers and other items because of the misbehavior of a very few.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 6, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I don't see how denying 16 year olds the right to buy a new pair of socks at the mall after they finish their Friday work is how we improve our society. In my opinion, learning how to clothe yourself, feed yourself, apply for and keep a job are all good life skills. In my observation, gang membership and a life of crime generally can be caused in large part by a lack of these skills and associated opportunities to learn them.

Posted by: Citizen | April 6, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Sniff the air after that teenage beer party you throw, Rillings. It's not Budweiser you smell, it's a lawsuit and criminal charges after you've given alcohol to minors.

Posted by: BD | April 6, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure we should expect malls to be in charge of "improv[ing] our society."

If you have an explanation of how kids join the Vice Lords because they couldn't buy socks after work, I would like to hear it.

An explanation of how shopping mall rules applicable to teenagers on weekends impair the ability of young people to feed and clothe themselves or seek and hold employment would also be appreciated.

Posted by: BD | April 6, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

"State parks require my small, sweet, geriatric dog to be on a leash because some dogs attack other people and animals."

I'm sorry you think it's okay to compare teenagers to your dog :(

Posted by: Anonymous | April 6, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse


At my local mall the teenagers don't "mingle in society." Mingling in society involves not only taking, but giving. Here, the teenagers are dropped off in large hordes, wearing clothes a stripper might find risque, and their large groups block the main walkways such that shoppers can't get by to complete their business. Apart from the fighting and sexual activity, they also cluster right around the entrances to smoke. To enter the mall, you have to walk through huge clouds of secondhand smoke. I personally don't want my young child exposed to that.

Not only that, but someone who is giving back to society might, for example, open a door for someone who is elderly/handicapped/pregnant/laden with shopping bags. Or pick up something someone dropped. Or move out of the aisle for people to pass by. I've never seen that happen.

So no, malls are not required to allow teenagers to "mingle" if all they're doing is annoying or endangering mall customers.

By the way, when I was a teenager, I DID work at the mall. When I was off work, I sure didn't want to hang out there. Do YOU want to hang out at work on a Friday night?

I was fortunate enough to have parents and friends' parents who allowed us to hang out in their homes instead. I never felt like we were monitored too closely, yet I also knew that if something started to happen that I was uncomfortable with, (sex, drugs, whatever) there was an escape route. It's one of the arts of parenthood - providing a safe, yet fun environment for hanging out. I hope to master this art when it's my turn to parent teenagers.

Posted by: Karen | April 6, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

As you might gather, I've worked all my life. After carrying newspapers at 12, I worked at a shopping mall starting at 13, stocking shelves and later became buyer and sales clerk.

To me, it is abundantly clear how banning folks from restaurants, stores that sell socks and banks is, in itself, directly preventing these people from participating. I don't know how to more clearly express this. If you are banished, you can not participate, by definition.

I am not saying that I went to shopping malls simply for the purpose of socializing. That probably came later when I used a local restaurant as an opportunity to meet and greet folks my age and met a wife. Our Western social patterns do, in fact, seem bizarre to many folks from Asia.

At the age of 16, if I visited a mall to buy a pair of socks, my goal was simply to visit the store, make a selection and tender money in exchange for the goods, interacting in a business-like manner with the store people.

It's an important part of growing up, if not existing, to learn how to visit a store or restaurant and make an effective exchange of money for goods and services. Applying for and holding a job takes even more advanced skills.

Teenagers, as well as those in the twenties, tend do get a lot of disrespect for simply standing outside the mall waiting for a ride. This attitude is clear from many posts here.

Do you think all the members of the Vice Lords can fill out a job application and make themselves presentable with proper socks, etc.? If you think they possess all these skills, I submit to you that you are unfamilar with the population of our prisons.

Posted by: Citizen | April 6, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I submit to you, Citizen, that you are unfamiliar with the meaning of the word "participate". Participation involves more than simply standing around, getting into fights, smoking, and taking up space. "Participation" as defined by the owners of the property in question (the land, the building, and the merchandise) means perusing merchandise with the intent to buy.

My son has a large jungle gym, play fort, and treehouse. We live in a neighborhood without a playground. We invite kids over from time to time, but I wouldn't allow people to drop their kids off here after school, uninvited and unsupervised. It's an insurance liability, for starters. What if one got hurt? Secondly, it's not my responsibility to provide the neighborhood a place to go after school just because there isn't anywhere else. It would be the same thing if we had a swimming pool.

A property owner has the right to determine who may enter the property and for what purposes. In the case of violence, and especially in a situation where innocent bystanders may be hurt, the mall's responsibility is to prevent the problem from happening in the first place, NOT to be a free babysitter.

Posted by: Karen | April 6, 2007 9:02 PM | Report abuse

I've removed the offensive comments referred to by several of you.

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | April 6, 2007 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Citizen, stores exist other places besides the mall on weekend nights. It is silly to suggest American youth reach their teen years without ever having bought something.

Nobody has mentioned banning teenagers from restaurants or banks, so you can stop beating that straw man.

There are no Jim Crow laws for teenagers, preventing them from participating in much of American life. The mall rules ban them from one (count it, one)privately owned building on perhaps two nights per week, and then only if unsupervised, for a relatively short period of their lives. If teenagers live in a big enough urban area, perhaps they are banned from more than one mall on Friday and Saturday nights, but if that is the case they have many other shopping options.

They are not being denied vital life skills and there is nothing to indicate mall employees of whatever age would be denied entry. Nor is there any reason to think teenagers would lose all opportunity to work at the mall unless one believes retail establishments do all of their interviews and hiring on busy weekend nights.

Posted by: JP5 | April 7, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Grow up, emoticon poster. Don't pretend you didn't understand the analogy.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

BTW, thank you for describing your sock-buying procedure. Most enlightening for anyone who didn't grasp what that might have involved.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I lived in Tulsa, OK while I was in high school. When I was, I think, 17, the local mall changed its rules to ban "unsupervised" teenagers under 16 or 18 (I can't remember, and the Internet won't help me. I think it was 18.) Most of my friends were outraged, but very few of them brought up the business side of it. Teenagers have HUGE amounts of disposable income. I never once went to the mall without buying something, usually something I didn't need. The amount we'll spend in the food court alone is outrageous. Tulsa didn't have much else to do on Friday and Saturday nights, especially if you were a younger teen without a car. Having Mom or Dad drop you at the mall was the best you could do.

Posted by: recently under 18 | April 9, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I think that these curfews and mall restrictions are necessary. I live in Washington, D.C., and several people including me were physically attacked outside the Fort Totten Metro Station at about 12:30 a.m. on a Saturday a few years ago. I was punched in the face, and knocked to the ground. Another man was struck over the head with a piece of wood, and his head was bleeding. The Metro Transit Police stopped a large group of teenagers. I was unable to identify my attacker, but the other man did identify who struck him. One comment by one of the transit police officers stuck with me. "What are these teenagers doing out after midnight?" Unfortunately the police were not really interested in enforcing the Washington D.C. ordinance on curfews for teens in that case. I think that these restrictions and curfews may force some parents to take responsibility for their children.

Posted by: Jeff | April 10, 2007 6:15 AM | Report abuse

Could it be that these teens are those cute little over aggressive toddlers that your friend had who needed to learn to channel their aggression? (but maybe didn't?)

Posted by: Katie | April 10, 2007 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Age discrimination is just as immoral as racial discrimination. I can see the property-rights argument for the malls in these cases, but I do not think that argument should prevail until and unless we drop the antidiscrimination laws altogether. If you're not willing to let the malls exclude people on the grounds of race, you should not be willing to let them exclude people on the grounds of age. The law as it stands, permitting one sort of discrimination but not the other, is disrespectful to youth and must be changed--either to affirm the absolute right of owners to admit whom they please (which I prefer) or to prohibit all forms of group discrimination.

Meanwhile, everyone--especially teenagers--ought to refuse to shop in malls with discriminatory practices (whether by race, age, sexual orientation, what have you).

Posted by: Alexander | April 10, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I think it is the parents fault and they should teach their kids to respect the stores and the people.

Posted by: unhappykid | April 12, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

i saw elvis in the shower singing brittany spears and he thinks kids should be aloud to go to the mall unsupervised

Posted by: elvis freak | April 12, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

i think yall are being way unfair and big butts! :(

Posted by: mckenzie | April 12, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: =u=p-\tkly | April 16, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

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