Chambersburg Mall mulls new teen rules

January 27, 1998

Chambersburg Mall mulls new teen rules


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg Mall officials are considering a new policy to discourage teenage rowdies by requiring parental escorts on Friday and Saturday nights.

If approved, the escort policy would bar unaccompanied teens age 16 and under from the mall from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, said Ron Formosa, Chambersburg Mall's general manager.

Formosa and Crown American officials will decide whether the policy should be implemented.

"The parental escort policy is not a ban or a curfew ... We want the kids to come, but they have to abide by the policies and procedures," Formosa said.


If the policy goes into effect, about a dozen mall security officers will be added to help enforce it. Most will be posted at mall entrances to check identification of adults accompanied by teenagers on Friday and Saturday nights, Formosa said.

Teenagers who work at the mall will be issued photo identification cards that they will be required to show during the parental escort hours, he said.

"It's just not fair. Most of us aren't bad, we just walk around," said Amanda Ward, 13, who was waiting in line at the movie theater inside the mall with a group of friends Friday night.

Ward said she and her friends go to the mall at least once every other week.

Many of the teens interviewed said they go to the mall for something to do, to meet their friends, and because it's free.

"I don't see why we need escorts because the cops are everywhere," said Laura Crider, 14.

Formosa said the escort policy would be a logical step since a series of other plans to control teenagers have failed over the last six years.

"This was not a shoot-from-the-hip decision," Formosa said.

One plan that has helped involves regular patrols by Chambersburg Police officers and a police dog, he said.

Business owners at the mall said teens swarm to the mall in such great numbers on weekend nights that regular shoppers are intimidated. Mall security has logged a number of reports of teenagers bumping into people, spitting, using profanity, bullying smaller children, shoplifting and fighting.

"It's like we're baby-sitting," said Shawn Musselman, assistant manager at Shenk and Tittle sporting goods store.

Most of the business owners at the mall said they would welcome the new policy and believe business will pick up when the situation is remedied.

"I can't wait," said Patrick Sherman, manager of Aladdin's Castle arcade.

Several store owners said they don't blame the young people as much as they do parents who drop their kids off, most with only pocket change, and let them hang out all night.

"A couple of bad kids ruined it for all of them," said Michael George, owner of Comics World.

If the escort policy is approved, Chambersburg Mall will be the first of Crown American's 25 malls across the country to have such a rule.

But other malls in the country, including the nation's largest, Mall of America in Minnesota, have similar policies, said Formosa, who said he visited that mall and studied its plan.

"We (Chambersburg) have the highest and worst number of incidents regarding teens" of all the Crown American malls, Formosa said.

Valley Mall in Hagerstown, also a Crown American mall, does not have a significant problem, said Timothy Nolan, general manager.

"Generally the teens understand what's appropriate behavior and they don't come here in numbers," he said.

Chambersburg Mall is facing problems that are a part of the community, he said.

"The malls generally reflect the community. If there's a juvenile problem in the community, it will show up in the mall," Nolan said.

Malls generally are safe environments and parents don't often have to worry if their children are there, Nolan said. But that doesn't mean parents should lose sight of the fact that a mall is a place of business.

Teens come to and are welcome at the mall in Martinsburg, W.Va., where General Manager John Weidlich said "we really don't have a problem" with teens hanging out.

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