Sept. 23, 2010— -- On Friday and Saturday nights, at an increasing number of malls across the country, teenagers are being forced to bring along the one person they'd most likely rather leave behind: a parent.
Dozens of malls now have what they call a "parental escort policy," meaning teens under the age of 18 have to be with a parent or guardian who is 21 or over to enter. Most shopping centers have these restrictions only on weekend evenings, but some keep them in place seven days a week.
The Mid Rivers Mall in St. Louis, Mo., started sending away teens at the end of May, and it has resulted in both more customers and sales. After a month, overall mall traffic was up 5 percent on Friday and Saturday nights, and sales were up 3 to 10 percent in all categories, including teen-oriented retailers, according to the property's management.
Last month, the Tri-County Mall in Cincinnati joined the list of malls with a teen escort policy, and Jesse Tron of the International Council of Shopping Centers said the practice is spreading, particularly with schools back in session and the mall socializing that comes with it.
"We're in a period of increased activity for this," he said. "It's cyclical. Throughout the holidays, you'll see new policies be enacted."
The gigantic Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., was the first to ban teens who didn't have adult supervision, in 1996, according to Tron's group. By 2007, 39 malls had similar restrictions and by 2010, the number had nearly doubled to 66.
The impetus for these regulations isn't usually a specific incident, like a brawl. Instead it is the generally unruly, horseplay-heavy crowds concentrated in the food court and at the movie theater entrance.