The ban makes me mad. The new policy comes a little less than two months after The Miami Herald reported that police arrested 12 kids aged 14 to 17 outside the mall’s movie theater for brawling on a Saturday night. It was quite a scene. Accounts at the time said a fight broke out in front of the ticket office, triggering a chaotic stampede by hundreds rushing the concession stand. Of course teen abhor being punished for the actions of a few bad eggs.
Banning teens from malls at night isn’t all that unusual. An increasing number of malls and movie theaters across the country are adopting similar polices. The Mall of America was the first to establish an “escort policy” in 1996, and the idea has quickly spread. At least 40 other malls also have put limits on when teenagers can be there alone.
Frankly, my kids have never asked to go to the movies alone at night so I haven’t had to confront this yet. If they did, I’d be a reluctant to let them. I’ve been outside local theaters near midnight and seen teens hanging out. It’s a scary scene. Some nights, it looks like a brawl could start any minute.
So, while I understand the mall’s reasoning, I don’t think they need a ban. I think having a ban might cause bigger problems. Where are high school age teens supposed to go on a date? I’d rather my teen be in a movie theater than a parked car. I used to hang out with friends at night at the mall theater when I was in high school. Why can’t today’s teens have a place to hang out? We don’t want teens in bars. We don’t want them driving around town without purpose. We don’t want them crashing parties. Teens need a place to meet up and hang out and the mall movie theater is an ideal venue.
What do you think about the ban? Is it financially foolish for Aventura Mall or a great marketing move? Do you consider meeting friends a the mall theater a high school rite of passage?