Age Restriction Alert: Is the New Mall Policy a Hit or Miss?

Recently, the Westfield Garden State Plaza shopping mall in Paramus, New Jersey introduced a new rule regarding an age restriction in the mall. The new rule restricts individuals under the age of seventeen to be present in the mall on Friday and Saturday nights, without the presence of a legal guardian over twenty-one years old. In light of the many consistent events that occur at the mall that hinder the shoppers safety, the administration has decided to put this new rule into place. Following multiple shoplifting instances and attempts, overcrowding, and overall obnoxious behavior, the security of the individuals coming to enjoy the amenities of the mall are finally being put into consideration. The mall has been a beloved attraction for families in Bergen County for many years, including all of its amenities; the food court, AMC movie theater, high end shops, retail shops, and the list goes on. However, recently the mall has faced backlash from New Jersey residents, especially children and teens, following their decision.  

Many teens under the age of seventeen feel that forbidding them access to the mall without being accompanied by a legal guardian is unfair. Many propose the idea that many stores will lose business as their main clientele are teens who shop there. Stores including Hollister, Garage, Pacsun, and Aerie, are only a few of the ones on the list. Asking multiple students and other individuals opinion on the topic, one adult, a guidance counselor at Leonia High School shares her opinion, “While I think it’s slightly unreasonable, people must be independent and learn to be in the real world. If someone can’t act accordingly in a public mall, how will they be able to function in the world? People really need to learn how to behave”, she says. Agreeing with that statement, the amount of ill behaved teenagers that take over the mall has grown increasingly in recent times, a fellow student comments on the issue as well, “I can see why they would require people under the age of 17 to be with an adult because so many teenagers go to this mall and are causing problems, raising fights, etc. This is a way to prevent that”. Even fellow teenagers are agreeing with this matter.

Considering the fact that there have now been 199 mass shootings in 2023, while there have only been 128 days this year so far. That statement is extremely frightening, therefore the safety of these individuals is at first hand. While teenagers are not statistically the main possessors of weapons, it is vital to protect them at all costs. But the way teenagers act out in public when in large groups, creates an even more dangerous environment.