(by Jill Harkins, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) – Monroeville Mall near Pittsburgh is the latest in a string of shopping malls nationwide to put into place a policy that requires adults to accompany minors during weekend evening hours.
The policy comes in the wake of a shooting in the mall’s Macy’s over the weekend that left three wounded, as well as a recent robbery and a December incident in which large numbers of teens converged on the mall and caused a disturbance.
Monroeville Mall’s general manager, Tom Gerber, announced plans Sunday for implementing a Youth Escort Policy to “curtail the rising number of unsupervised youth hanging out at Monroeville Mall and related disturbances.”
Beginning sometime this month, mall visitors after 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays who are under 18 years old will have to be accompanied by an individual who is at least 21.
Stacey Keating, corporate marketing specialist for CBL & Associates Properties Inc., which owns and manages the mall, said this policy was in the works prior to Saturday’s shooting and enforcement is scheduled to begin in March.
“We’ve examined a lot of our incidences over the past year and found that a lot of the problems that have occurred have been a result of unsupervised youth. It’s a conversation we’ve been having at Monroeville for about a month now, and in light of recent events we decided to fast-track the implementation of the policy,” she said.
The launch date of the policy is yet to be finalized and there were no details on how it would be enforced.
However, CBL Properties has implemented the same policy at other shopping centers, including River View Mall in Lynchburg, Va. Enforcement includes security guards checking for identification at mall entrances.
Monroeville Mall is the latest of many malls implementing such policies. Malls with similar policies include Franklin Park Mall in Toledo, Ohio; Tri-County Mall in Cincinnati; Ford City Mall in Chicago; the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.; and 25 of CBL Properties’ shopping centers.
Franklin Park Mall and Ford City Mall both started their policies in January, making them two of the most recent additions.
Ford City had a February 2014 disturbance similar to that at Monroeville Mall in December, with a mob of teenagers running through the mall and parking lot and jumping on cars. Nineteen teenagers were arrested and two people were injured. Though no additional incidents occurred between February and Ford City’s implementation of the policy last month, mall officials described it as a precautionary measure in response to teens fighting at malls across the country.
Franklin Park also called its policy a proactive rather than a reactive measure.
Several malls have even stricter policies than Monroeville Mall’s planned restrictions. Franklin Park Mall’s policy begins at 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and the MacArthur Center in Norfolk, Va., prohibits unsupervised minors from entering the premises after 5 p.m. all seven days of the week.
According to the CBL news release: “The conduct of unsupervised youth and young adults at Monroeville Mall has created an uncomfortable atmosphere for mall visitors and an increasing safety challenge.”
Significant to the policy’s development was feedback from local government officials and community members, particularly shoppers and store employees who have expressed safety concerns, according to the release.
Employees under 18 will be issued special identification allowing them to remain in the mall unsupervised on weekend nights. Once they have clocked out of work, the same general public rules will apply to them, as well.
The release also states that the mall will continue to partner with community groups to ensure the establishment of supervised youth activities outside of visiting the mall.
The Mall of America was the first to implement such a policy in 1996, though its policy only applies to those under 16.
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1. Why is CBL Properties, which owns and manages Monroeville Mall near Pittsburgh, implementing a Youth Escort Policy on weekends at the mall? Be specific.
2. What exactly does the policy entail?
3. Is this the first mall to implement such a policy? Explain your answer.
4. A 17 year-old shot three people at Monroeville Mall over the weekend, but mall management had already been considering the Youth Escort Policy. For what reasons were CBL Properties already considering implementing the policy?
5. What “unsupervised minors” policies do other malls across the country have?
6. CBS News reports:
26 year-old Kristie Ferreira of St. Louis shopped and worked at the St. Louis Galleria mall, where she was carded frequently. Ferreira says younger adult shoppers were profiled, and many stopped shopping there with stores losing money. “I do think sales go down,” she says.
CBL Properties’s Stacey Keating disagrees. “Overall, the program has been very beneficial to those malls that have needed to control a teen issue, and sales have gone up because families are coming back to the mall to shop,” says Keating.
a) Do you think a Youth Escort Policy will cause malls to lose money? If so, what do you think mall owners should do about groups of teens causing trouble? If not, explain your answer.
b) Ask a parent: should malls wait until something happens before implementing this type of policy, or should they be proactive? Would you stop or limit your visits to a mall where huge disturbances/fights have occurred? Explain your answers.
Implementing the Youth Escort Policy will require security guards to check anyone who looks under 18.
“Security officers are going to be prepared to ask for identification if a person’s age cannot be easily determined and they appear to be under the age of 18,” added Keating.
The carding may occur at mall entrances or within the mall – with minors required to have a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or guardian with them.
Older siblings don’t count, and it’s one adult for every three children. (from CBS Pittsburgh)