The malls want business. The police do not want their time wasted. Families look forward to a pleasant shopping experience. Teens need a place to mingle, grab a burger, watch a movie, buy a pair of sneakers. Why allow a few bad actors ruin it for everyone?
Chaos, lack of structure and no supervision predictably fail. What if it became a privilege for teens to be unaccompanied in the mall during peak hours? Give them an incentive. Set a goal that earns a reward.
Consider a program that registers teens, educates them about a code of conduct and requires them to sign an agreement. Then, grant them the privilege to be in the mall without a parent or guardian, provided they wear a photo ID.
Perhaps this could be linked to marketing by stores at the mall. Discounts, bonus points or special sales might help create a situation where everyone wins.
Reward good behavior. This simple concept might work!
Terrence Burns, MD