Generation Z is ripping a new chaperone policy implemented by a New Jersey mall after an increase in disruptive behavior by some younger visitors.
The policy, which went into effect in late April at Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, New Jersey, bars individuals aged 17 and younger from being inside the mall after 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays without someone 21 or older accompanying them.
People aged 17 and younger inside the mall on Fridays or Saturdays “must leave the mall” by 5 p.m. or be joined by an adult, according to the policy.
According to the New York Post, teenagers aren’t happy with the new policy.
“This is so f—ed up,” one teenager angrily said as he was escorted out of the mall.
Edwin Santana, Intel Analyst for the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Gang Intelligence Unit, which is a county over from the mall, told FOX Business that a variety of incidents likely led the mall to implement the policy.
“So it’s just a matter of an accumulation of different incidents that lead authorities or owners of the area to do something like that for the safety of not just, you know, the store owners and people that rent out space within that property, but also for the, you know, the people that go there shopping,” Santana said.
He added that these kinds of policies are intended to protect the mall’s business in addition to its customers.
“And when you have [large fights] like that, you’re talking about, you know, an image that not just the county or the city that the mall’s located, but also the company and the store owners and the people that end up losing revenue because now it’s getting stereotyped,” Santana said. “Then most importantly, the safety of the bystanders, the individuals that are there with their kids walking and shopping on a Saturday and a Friday night and then having to deal with such chaos.”
The mall cites an “increase in disruptive behavior” for the policy’s implementation. It argues the curfew-style policy for minors “will ensure a pleasant and safe environment for our families and every member of our community, as well as our retail partners.”
Enforcement of the policy is enforced by mall security, who may ask for proof of age for the youth or the supervising adult. The policy also limits the number of people one adult can chaperone to four.
Those who are between the ages of 18 and 21 can still enter the mall after 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, but must present an ID and must wear a blue bracelet showing they’re under 21.
Emily, a 14-year-old high school student with her mother at the mall, said the policy unfairly targets youth who are following the rules.
“It’s unfair,” she said. “You should be able to walk around the mall by yourself, and the people who start the fights should be banned so that they don’t ruin it for everybody else.”
The policy’s implementation comes after an incident on March 11 posted to TikTok, which appears to show hundreds of minors surrounding a fight, according to the New York Post.
Andrea, Emily’s mother, said the new policy is needed.
“It’s been unsafe,” Andrea said. “The [authorities] aren’t left with many ways to stop the fighting. Maybe this will calm it down.”
Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, a spokesperson for the National Police Association, told FOX Business that policies like these are needed because malls are dying, and she blames safety as one reason for it.
“Malls are dying, and it’s, you know, a lot of times people say, well, it’s because of Amazon and this and that because of the pandemic, but it’s also because people don’t necessarily feel safe going to a mall,” Smith said. “It’s about safety, obviously, but it’s also about capitalism. It’s about people being able to spend their money in the way that they want to, be entertained, and especially as we’re coming into summer.”
Both Marilyn Warren, 74, and her daughter Cassandra, 29, also told the Post that the mall’s new policy is warranted.
“The dangers are always increasing,” Warren said.
“Little girls and teenage girls can be taken advantage of,” Cassandra said. “In the evening, the mall becomes a breeding ground for predators. Kids don’t need to be out by themselves at night.”
Claudia, a 36-year-old who works at a decorative keepsake kiosk at the mall, said that the policy needs to go further and said more restrictions are needed for all ages.
“So now what?” Claudia asked. “The adults can come and do damage… I don’t think [the policy] is gonna work in the long run.”
Wesley Rebisz, Westfield Garden State Plaza senior general manager, told FOX Business that it has been pleased with the community’s response to the new policy.
“We are very pleased with the community response toward our Parental Guidance Policy, as well as the outcome of the first weekend that it was in effect,” Rebisz said. “Last Friday and Saturday evening we welcomed thousands of guests who were having fun shopping, dining and experiencing everything our shopping center has to offer. We were also very happy to see how many guests under 18 years of age chose to visit the center with an adult family member.”
* Article From: Fox Business