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WITH THE YOUTH BAN, MAIN PLACE MALL MIGHT HAVE TROUBLE IN STORE

Under a new policy that went into effect March 16, Main Place Mall in downtown Buffalo has banned high school students from entering the mall between 3 and 4:15 p.m. weekdays. Security guards now stand at all doors blocking entry to all kids who cannot prove they are 18 or older or who aren't chaperoned. Mall officials say this is in response to shoppers and store owners who complain of rough language, rowdy behavior, loudness and shoplifting.

Mall manager Bob Franklin says that mall security, along with help from Buffalo police and Ameri-Corps volunteers, was unable to handle the 300 to 400 teens who visit the mall after school.

This new rule has angered many teens. Jennifer Dublin, 16, is one of the many students who think this new policy is unfair: "It's true that a lot of students loiter there, but me and my friends go there when we need to pick up a few things. We don't go there to hang out, and we have never caused any trouble. So why are we being punished?"

Casey Milbrand, also 16, thinks the ban is a good thing. "By not allowing them into the mall they might actually go home and do some homework. I think going to the mall should be a weekend thing, anyway."

There are those who are claiming the ban has to do with racism. Rallies have been held outside the mall's doors with community activists, angry parents and students voicing their opinions and calling for a boycott. They argue that this is the only mall in Buffalo and that the policy is targeting inner-city youths.

Some teens go there just to be with their friends and keep warm at the same time. They don't spend any money, and all they do is cause problems. But there are those who go there to shop, and now they are banned -- and understandably angry. With the new policy, the mall is trying to bring back shoppers who may have left because of the teens. But in the process the mall may be losing potential future customers.

Bridget Coughlin is a junior at Hutchinson-Central Technical High School.

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