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story.lead_photo.caption Park Plaza file photo - Photo by Emma Pettit

The general manager of Park Plaza Mall in Little Rock on Thursday explained the thinking behind a new policy requiring minors to be accompanied by a supervising adult some nights of the week.

At a news conference, Lance Ivy said the mall aims to be a “family-friendly” space, but that an influx of unsupervised youths has created an “uncomfortable atmosphere.”

There have been a number of “disturbances” in the past few months, Ivy said, including an incident Dec. 26, when dozens of teens were removed from the mall for “causing fear,” Arkansas Online reported.

After reviewing the problem and talking to business owners, mall officials decided to implement a new youth escort policy, Ivy said. The policy, which starts April 7, requires anyone younger than 18 years old to be accompanied by a parent or guardian who is 21 or older Friday and Saturday nights after 5 p.m. The mall closes at 9 p.m. on those nights.

The rule can also be applied on other days at the management's discretion, according to a news release. It does not apply to teens who are working at the mall Friday and Saturday nights.

Photo by Emma Pettit
Code of conduct seen at Park Plaza on Thursday, March 16, 2017.

Teenage shoppers are “important to us” and “welcome to shop at the mall anytime,” Ivy said. They're a main part of their customer base, and “we definitely don't want to shun them,” he said.

Ivy also said he did not think the rule will affect the number of teens shopping at the mall, adding that other shopping centers around the United States have done a similar thing with positive effects.

To enforce the policy, the mall will train security officers and place them near entrances during the designated times, Ivy said. Those guards will approach incoming customers if they have a hard time knowing how old the person is and ask for photo identification, which could include a school ID.

If a teen is in violation, his or her parents will be called, Ivy said. The officer will “keep an eye” on minors until their guardians arrive, he said.

The mall is publicizing the policy three weeks before it goes into affect through social media and posting the rule near entrances and on fliers so there will be no surprises, Ivy said. The businesses inside Park Plaza were consulted before the rule was announced, and many, such as Dillard's, are in support, he said.

Kristina Jones and Allie Scott were discussing Park Plaza's new rule as they perused racks of blouses and stacks of jewelry at Forever 21 on Thursday morning. Jones, 15, said she doesn't go shopping too often, but she can understand why the mall might want to enforce some sort of adult supervision. She said she's watched teenagers do some “dumb things for fun” and “roughhouse” before.

Scott, who is 17, agreed and said she had no idea it was getting bad enough for Park Plaza management to do something about it. Scott said she and Jones are both homeschooled and enjoy coming the mall during the day so they can weave in and out of stores without the crowds.

But children who are at public or private school during the day don't have that option, Scott said. And those kids might not have a 21-year-old to accompany them at night, Jones added.

“I could definitely see that being a problem” for them, Scott said.

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  • titleist10
    March 16, 2017 at 12:41 p.m.

    What's up with these juveniles? They have no respect for authority or the law-it did'nt use to be like that-I blame it on the breakdown of the family unit

  • 0boxerssuddenlinknet
    March 16, 2017 at 2:32 p.m.

    you sure the judge in Hawaii who stopped trump's vetting order for immigrants from troubled countries. won't put a stop to the mall's new ruling as being unfair to minors to restrict their movement. ? I mean do the businesses in the mall have a legal right to try to protect themselves from youngsters that have not committed a crime yet ?

  • caspertherat
    March 16, 2017 at 2:34 p.m.

    Wow. Pretty harsh, I mean, after all, weren't the parents just letting the Mall owners babysit their kids in the evenings for free because they were to lazy or careless to entertain them at home? I thought that was the new normal. Bored kids? Just load them up and drop them off at the mall unsupervised all evening. What could possibly go wrong with that? Now some fool is going to try to figure out a way to file some stupid lawsuit saying the Mall is violating some undiscovered "Right".

  • Snowlily1
    March 16, 2017 at 10:53 p.m.

    I worked at Dillard's Park Plaza several times, both in sales and in the credit office. Parents would bring their children in and let them run amok in the then toy department right off Infants and Children's department where I worked, while parents went shopping. Boys about 10-12 from the neighborhood would come in and lock the men's restroom stall doors and trash the restroom after they stuffed the toilets and crawled under the doors and left. "Customers" had sex in the mattress area of the furniture department, pooped in dressing rooms, and on and on. I'm glad that they will have to be escorted. The lady from the neighborhood who was on TV the other night saying she thought the children/teenagers should be allowed to come and go as they please obviously never had to clean up the mess they leave behind.

  • LR1955
    March 17, 2017 at 12:14 p.m.

    1) so a 21 yr old (senior thug) can be in charge of a group of sub-17 yr old thugs-in-training

    2) you have to have a photo ID to shop in the mall but don't need one to vote