New Chaperone Policy at Garden State Plaza


Kerianne O, Chief Editor

Going to the mall is one of the most popular activities for teenagers, and everyone in Hawthorne is familiar with the teenage paradise that is Garden State Plaza. But a recent development will force mall-goers to alter their plans when visiting in the future.

As a result of the fights, unruly crowds, and overall chaos and disruption caused by the masses of underage teens, Garden State Plaza has decided to implement a new chaperone policy. Beginning April 28, anyone 17 years old or younger must be accompanied by an adult 21 years or older on Fridays and Saturdays after 5 pm. This rule does not apply during weeknights or for children under the age of 10 and is effective throughout the entire mall except for the movie theater and restaurants, and while department stores are free to set their own policies, once guests enter the main areas of the mall they must adhere to it.

One adult 21 or older may accompany up to only four people at a time. The policy mandates that unsupervised minors visiting the mall must leave by 5 pm or be joined by a supervising adult immediately. Identification will be checked by police and security guards stationed at the entrances and throughout the mall, whether it is a driver’s license, school or military ID, or passport, and anyone who cannot provide ID or is not of age will be asked to leave the mall. Waiting zones will be established for underage visitors without a supervising adult near some of the entrances.

The decision to place these restrictions on minors was made after careful consideration and aims to “ensure everyone feels comfortable in our shopping center and can enjoy their experience,” according to mall spokesperson Wesley Rebisz.

Mall officials hope this extra step in security measures will create a safer and more comfortable environment for families and members of the community. The crowds and bad behavior by teenagers at the mall have gotten noticeably worse in the past few years, especially with fights that have broken out in the parking lot, food court, and other areas, which have caused panic among shoppers and have required police interference in some cases.

So far the policy has received mixed reviews. Many praise the new policy, hoping that the crowds and chaotic atmosphere caused by teens at the mall will finally begin to calm down. Others doubt its effectiveness and criticize the mandate for taking away teenagers’ freedoms.

For teens in Hawthorne, the Garden State Plaza is where many of us spend our weekends and days off so this policy will take some time to get used to. Let’s wait and see how effective it really is, and how well the mall will be able to enforce it.