Many teenagers like to hang out at the local shopping mall, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. While this promotes business at the Auntie Anne’s and Hollister, many mall workers find they have to add the duty of babysitting to their job description. Some mall employees are so frustrated with teenagers clogging their stores and taking away from business that they have had security enforce a “parental escort policy.” This policy requires all shoppers age 18 and younger to have a parent or guardian who is at least 21 or older with them at all times. While this policy may help the employees and businesses, it comes with some benefits and drawbacks.
While teenagers are disgruntled about having to go to the mall with their parents, employees and businesses find the policy beneficial. Retailers like the policy, as the parents and guardians often spend money and boost stores’ sales. Teenagers are also forced to spend time with their parents, which can open communication and build stronger bonds together.
The safety of the mall is also increased with teenagers being properly supervised. Often, teenagers can be noisy and can make poor decisions like choosing to shoplift or be destructive to mall property. With the correct supervision, these behaviors are limited, and mall security and mall employees do not have to worry as much about teenagers disrupting normal mall activities.
The parental escort policy has many positive attributes, but there are also many negative aspects and drawbacks to the concept. First, it primarily hurts the teenagers. Teenagers, often being poor, need a place where they can stay out of trouble that doesn’t cost much money. Whereas the movies typically costs more than $10 per person, the mall costs nothing yet is still typically a place free of drugs and alcohol, making it a place of safety for teenagers. While they may not respect all aspects of the mall and may take up room in the stores, teens hanging out in a mall are also not on the street getting into serious trouble.
In addition to teens who simply use the mall to hang out, there are also serious shoppers under the age of 18 being hurt by the policy. If a 16 or 17 year old cannot enter the mall to make a purchase, the store loses out on their business. Parents also have to take time out of their schedules to accompany their children to the mall, something that many parents simply would rather not do, especially when their son or daughter is old enough to drive.
Security also has to be increased at the mall to enforce the policy. The security force could be spending their time on catching shoplifters or other important mall tasks, but instead, they must spend time checking the IDs of shoppers who look like they could be under 18.
The parental escort policy currently sweeping the nation has its benefits and drawbacks. Whereas it is important for teenagers to have support everywhere they go in order to prevent them from becoming troubled and harming themselves, they also need a certain level of freedom to grow into independent and responsible adults.