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Diatribe: Youth Escort Policies. Are They Unfair To Well-Behaved Teens?

04/29/2012

Youh Escort, teenagers, mall security, gang activityLet’s face it … teenagers don’t really have a lot of options when it comes to entertaining themselves.  Used to be they could gather at a “malt shop” a bowling alley or a “teen club” but these places no longer exist or are too costly for the average teen to enjoy with any frequency.  In my hometown the teens with cars would gather in the parking lot at the Plaza.  It was a small shopping center with a large parking lot where the kids would gather just for the sake of gathering.  They weren’t necessarily supervised but local law enforcement was always on duty to prevent criminal activity.  It was a public space, after all.

Of course, large groups of teens can be intimidating to some.  The Plaza gatherings would sometimes get so large that they would cause traffic congestion, be loud or noisy and, occasionally, the inconsiderate members of the group would leave litter.  But if laws were broken, arrests were made.  And when the kids were asked to leave, they generally complied.

Our local mall recently introduced a Youth Escort Policy.  People under the age of 18 will no longer be allowed in the mall after 6:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays unless they are “accompanied by a parent or guardian 21 years of age or older”.  Unbeknownst to me, laws of this nature have existed around the country for some time.  And those who live in communities and shop at malls where these curfews have been implemented are overwhelmingly in favor of them and praise their success.  But are these laws fair?

To me, it seems that this is an example of a few bad apples spoiling the whole bunch.  Of course, there are many valid reasons to prevent “gang activity” and, perhaps, monitoring large groups of teenagers is a good idea, but I believe the teens’ actions and behaviors should be scrutinized before their mere presence is questioned.  Certainly, teenagers are capable of  gathering without causing problems for their communities.  If they break a law … arrest them.  Otherwise, leave them alone.

What do you think?  Should groups of teenagers be banned even if they’re not causing any problems?

Copyright © 2012 www.DiatribesAndOvations.com
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14 Comments
  1. wcdameron permalink

    I would agree with you, singling out any group just seems wrong.

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  2. It is a little like punishing the whole for the actions of a few.
    I don’t like it. i can understand malls, and mall businesses, wanting to protect their investment against a group of unsupervised ::::gasp::::: teenagers, but I still don’t like it.

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  3. Will J permalink

    Well, there is a reason that we don’t let them into bars…..

    I think what we are losing sight of the fact that being a teenager is a transitional time – not a child, yet not quite an adult. This time is spent expanding one’s autonomy, trying on new behaviors and exploring an expanding world. All this should be done in the context and with consideration of the development level and maturity of the individual young person. The fallacy of trying to regulate this so that all of a sudden at age 18 a whole new world opens up is that suddenly the young person is shoved into a world with no social construct with how to address the opportunities and responsiblities. Think of all the kids who got into a little bit of trouble before they were 18, learned their lesson and straightened up. Shifting some of this to later in life could be a problem. If the issue is loitering and congregating, just play opera. I also believe that trying to regulate the bad apples is just a game of Whack a Mole – they just show up somewhere else doing something else so the whole process of regulate, new issue, regulate….begins again.

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  4. I get kids “hanging” out all the time around my store. The problem is, in any group of 4 or more, there is usually one who wants to be a smart ass. You can see the other kids look at him to shut up, yet they don’t do anything to prevent the situation. It really is sad how one kid can have power over the other 4 or 5. Those same 4 or 5 on their own, are great, no problems. But for some reason, would rather be lumped in with the “bad” kids just by who they choose to hang out with.

    The sad part is when I see “good” kids cross over after hanging out with the “idiot” too often. 😦

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    • Thanks for sharing. It’s interesting to see this from your perspective. Apparently, one bad apple CAN spoil the whole bunch!

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      • They definitely have a lot of influence. The good thing is, usually after a few months the kids move on to a new group. I guess this is good and bad. Good hopefully the old realized they needed a new friend, the bad because a new group faces this new influence

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  5. I can see good & bad in this escort policy. When I was a teenager we hung out in parks & such, but now with overdevelopment there are fewer & fewer parks for the teenagers to hang out in. And by having teenagers hang out in parks, the small children are being pushed out of their play places. It also seems to me there is greater access to drugs & guns now than when I was a teenager. We had access to weed & hashish (which most of us tried & then left alone), but there is so much crack out there now which is much more highly addictive, leading to drug abuse & the need for money to buy drugs, stealing & the whole circle of crime.

    The owners of the shops in the mall have a right to be able to sell their goods, they pay taxes, etc. To me, they have come up with a way where teens can have legitimate access to the mall if they are accompanied by an adult instead of just banning them all together. Maybe this was a compromise they felt everyone could live with & it would serve the community best.

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    • I certainly see your point and, apparently, so do a lot of people who live in communities with curfews of this nature.

      To me, it’s sad that well-behaved teens, those who work hard throughout the week keeping up with their homework and studies so that they can enjoy free time on the weekends, can’t gather on a Friday night in the food court for ice cream after window-shopping. My philosphy has always been “The rules should apply to everyone or they shouldn’t apply at all” so I see this as a clear-cut case of discrimination against a specific group of citizens.

      The same steps that merchants take to prevent theft and other crimes on Tuesday nights or Sunday afternoons should be in place on Friday and Saturday nights. The same cameras should be pointed at the same doors and the same safety procedures should be in place. If a mall is more crowded on a particular evening, additional security staff might be required … just like during the holiday season.

      I worked in retail management for many years so I empathize with those trying to do business in these malls. But I honestly think the bad BEHAVIOR is what needs to be addressed. Instead of “shoo-ing” the troublemakers away or “banning” them on Saturday nights, arrest them for crimes that they commit and let THEM pay the price … not the entire teenage population.

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      • Again, you have a valid point. Unfortunately in this depressed economy it doesn’t always make sense to throw more money at a problem (eg. hiring more guards for weekend evenings, etc.) I think sometimes people do the best with what they have. I’m sure this mall & these shop owners don’t want to discriminate against good teens. Unfortunately, it’s the bad ones who make all the fuss, get all the attention & then the punishment trickles down to effect them all. It sounds to me like this particular place has chosen a solution which is the same for everyone – without an adult accompanying you, you will not be allowed admittance. They are not picking & choosing who can & cannot enter randomly. People who don’t support their policies can vote with their spending dollars by taking their business elsewhere.

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        • Of course, you’re right. And communities that have these curfews think they work.

          If I was a teen, I would certainly spend my money elsewhere … perhaps online.

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          • And as a parent, if you don’t agree with their policies you should take YOUR buying power elsewhere as well. Sometimes this is the only way to get through. If you feel strongly enough, talk to neighbors & ask them to buy elsewhere too.

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