Carly Tillman

Staff Reporter

16 May, 2023

Ongoing fights in public have taken its toll on teenagers. The Mall in Columbia is enforcing a new rule or ‘weekend curfew’ that solely targets teenagers that visit the shopping center without adult supervision. In my opinion, the safety of others is important, but I think that this new rule being introduced will not benefit the mall and those who visit.

     Beginning March 31, 2023, anyone under the age of 18 that visits the Mall in Columbia must be attended by an adult chaperone that is over the age of 21. The curfew starts at 4:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. The new rule was made to minimize the wild and unruly behavior of young shoppers at the mall, specifically unattended teenagers that visit the mall often. 

  Many shoppers were curious about the new curfew. I go to the mall as a teenage visitor, sometimes unattended. I find myself in disagreement with the new rule, because I prefer to go to the mall by myself or with friends rather than having to be with a parent the entire time or risk being told to leave. However, this does not mean the rule was made for no reason. 

  I was visiting the mall on February 11th while there was an ongoing fight between multiple teens sometime around 8:00 pm in the area outside. The event ended with what was believed to be two teenagers being arrested. Order and civility was quickly lost after the ensuing events. After things began to calm down that night, only people above the age of 18 were allowed to go back into the mall and others were advised to leave the property. I believe that this was just one of the many events that occurred at the mall that possibly triggered the idea to implement a youth curfew.

Employees and mall visitors complained that there was consistently a large group of around 20 to 30 teens outside the mall fighting and hitting people with Orbeez guns, electric toy guns that shoot polymer gel beads, every weekend in November between 4 and 7 pm. This caused a huge disturbance to local businesses as they were blocking entrances and the shooting drew away customers. Vicious behaviors are believed to be the main cause for the new rule. I disagree with this belief. I think the main reason they want young people to be alone in the mall area is because older shoppers continue to complain about them. The constant complaints will cause the mall to lose business, so the main purpose could potentially be to protect the money they gain from customers’ experience.

I see this reaction from the mall as a little unnecessary, despite their concerns for youths’ behaviors. A Marriotts Ridge High School freshman commented, “I just don’t understand why we have to be watched while I’m at the mall. A group of kids that were playing around one day messed things up for the rest of us.” The actions of a small group of people should not cause every teeanger in Columbia to be effectively banned, as weekend evenings are when most teens would visit. 

“The Columbia mall is literally a public area: what’s the point?” an Atholton freshman commented. While the new Friday and Saturday rule is for customers’ safety and to allow business to thrive, I don’t think it should have an effect on young visitors that are genuinely there to shop and are doing nothing wrong. However, there are some that believe such drastic measures are necessary. 

A parent from the Atholton High School community shares her thoughts. “A lot goes on in that mall, predominantly dangerous and unruly behaviors from teenagers that go every weekend. Whether they come in small teams of three or in groups of tens and twenties, they bring trouble with them. I think it is about time something has been done about it.” 

For the most part, students like myself think that the rule should be lifted and let those committing these “unruly” behaviors take the consequences for themselves. I believe that the mall could have handled the behaviors of younger shoppers differently, in a way that will still benefit them but still give teenagers freedom to walk around the mall on Fridays and Saturdays like they used to do. 

Posted by ceal224

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