New Jersey Mall Reinforces Strict ‘Parental Escort Policy’

Criminal acts have been on the rise nationwide in recent years, as have reports of disorderly kids being allowed to roam free in public spaces. 

In response to the threat of vandalism as well as safety concerns among patrons and employees, a number of businesses have implemented policies meant to limit or prohibit the presence of unaccompanied minors.

One example can be found in New Jersey’s Deptford Mall, which has technically had a parental escort policy in place for some time but recently redoubled efforts to enforce it. Throughout the weekend, individuals under the age of 18 must be accompanied by adults who are at least 25 years old and will be held responsible for the behavior of the children under their supervision.

Similar policies have been approved in malls and other public spaces, typically with a stated goal similar to that of the Deptford Mall and the local police department.

One mall employee highlighted some of the disruptive and threatening behavior that prompted a renewed look at the existing policy.

“They’re coming in groups,” said Tina Castelli of the young people. “They’re either fighting with each other or they’re just vandalizing. Like, they’re running wild and they’re making parents scared. Elderly people are scared. Young kids are scared they’re going to be jumped by these kids.”

A police statement announcing the reinforced policy stated: “We’re committed to providing an enjoyable experience for all our guests. We reserve the right to limit groups larger than four persons when not accompanied by an individual 25 or older. We also reserve the right to limit access of anyone under the age of 18 from 5 p.m. on Friday through Sunday when not accompanied by an adult age 25 or older.”

While a chaperone is allowed to supervise up to four minors, parents are permitted to accompany all of their own children, according to the policy. The mall has indicated that management could request identification from children and their chaperones in order to ensure compliance with the policy.

Cedar Fair Entertainment, which operates more than a dozen amusement parks in the U.S., announced a similar policy at a majority of its locations.

“Over the past two years, we have seen increasing incidents of unruly and inappropriate behavior across our industry and at other major entertainment venues,” explained spokesperson Gary Rhodes. “We believe these changes will help ensure that our parks continue to provide a safe and positive environment.”

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