Written by PSJ member Crystal Mackey Free
Recently, the Mall of St. Matthews witnessed something that has happened countless times in a multitude of ways since the dawn of time - a group of bored teenagers made a collective mistake. In response to this incident, the shopping center has instituted a rule of forced helicopter parenting of every person under the age of 18.
The rule pertaining to chaperones for teenagers is a fraught one at best. Disregarding the fact that the people in question are old enough to legally care for younger siblings, hold down a job and operate a motor vehicle, this rule is simply not feasible for many families. The assumption that all parents are available to hold hands with their teen every weekend is simply not true.
While some families are privileged with the freedom to choose whether or not to go with their high schooler to the mall, others are unable to do so.What kind of message is sent when a group of businesses cater to a particular type of family excluding those that fit outside of a 9-5, M-F work schedule? Is it fair to ban the younger members of a family from a social space simply because their parents have to work? Additionally, is it fair to judge every mall-goer under voting age based on the action of a few? The official statement from the mall was that while there were over one thousand teens on site at the time of the incident, the vast majority were not involved in any wrong doing.
The mall is a place of business - but it is more than that - it is an iconic social gathering space that allows teenagers to flex their decision making muscles without mom or dad hovering at their elbow. Taking away the ability of a parent to gauge whether or not their teen is ready to face the minor challenges of being alone with their friends in a mall is a misstep and one that could cost St. Matthews revenue and respect.