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Quiet night at the mall gets teens talking

The curfew policy going into effect at Valley View Mall has some teens up in arms. The mall's managers announced everyone under 18 will need adult supervision when they visit the mall on weekend nights after 6:00.

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At 6:30 Friday evening, 17-year-old Byron Hart strode into Valley View Mall to collect his paycheck.
He came face to face with a security guard.

Their eyes met.

Byron looked panicked. He pulled a Hollister Co. card from his wallet, explaining that he worked at the shopping center.

He knew about the curfew that began a half-hour earlier, the one banning anyone younger than 18 from being in the mall without an adult after 6 on Friday and Saturday nights.

"I didn't think it would be this strict," he said after being allowed to collect his check and an employee ID that hung around his neck, misspelling his first name as "Bryon."

Newspaper ads, news conferences and signs posted at the Roanoke mall seemed to spread the word about the curfew. When it took effect Friday, mall traffic was sparse. Stores such as Hollister-- normally buzzing with teens -- felt like a ghost town, albeit one with loud music, cushy chairs and pictures of hard-bodied models.

Teens can still enter anchor stores, such as Macy's, but inside the mall, they're expected to stay with their parents. Mom is not supposed to browse Christopher & Banks while the kids wander to Abercrombie & Fitch.
Mall managers believe the curfew will eliminate unsupervised crowds that intimidate patrons. Teens feel they are being punished for the actions of a few bad apples.

Yet mall manager Louise Dudley said public feedback has supported the curfew.

But as officers patrolled Friday -- standing in front of entrances, department stores and at the escalators outside Auntie Anne's pretzels, ID-checking drove some young adults away.

Chalsea Shinault, 18, estimates that she was carded five times in a half-hour. The final straw was when she said an officer followed her down an escalator.

"There's no point in staying," she said, pushing open a door. "They're going to end up running so many people off this mall."

Nationwide, 48 of 1,200 malls enforce curfews. Minnesota's Mall of America started the trend in 1996. The year before activating the rule, there were more than 300 fights and incidents. That number dropped to two in the first year after the curfew.

Managers of other malls are also happy with curfew results.

Lingering crowds prompted Durham, N.C.'s Northgate Mall to launch a program four years ago requiring teens to be with adults after 6 p.m., seven days per week.

At the time, the mall's marketing director, Paula Harris, was accused of discriminating against the "hip-hop generation." But after the policy, she said no retailers complained of lost business.

"We are not a school or a rec center or baby sitters," Harris said. "We want you to shop when you get here."

Valley View's policy prompted some teens to launch a protest -- going online and asking their peers to boycott.

Lauren Shelley, a 16-year-old Roanoker, started a Facebook page urging teens to shun the mall. The site suggests trying on clothes at Valley View but buying them online -- something she did last week.

"I'm an honors kid. My friends and I don't cause any problems," Lauren said. "It just made me really mad."
Courtney Lazore, 16, started a similar page and received e-mails from people of all ages. The site, protestvv.firez.org, even caught the attention of the National Youth Rights Association.

"If the ban doesn't go away," she said, "at least we tried."

Meanwhile, a Hollister employee said the store was the slowest she had seen on a Friday night. An Abercrombie manager reported the same. However, mall manager Dudley said business was incident-free and calm.

Yet 18-year-old Evan Wofford, tired of being carded, left early with his friends, not even sure where they were going.

"Valley View Mall's going to lose a lot of business because of this," he said.

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Website aimed at protesting the mall: http://www.protestvv.firez.org...

Posted by: SoulRiser
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Posted in: News by NewsBot on July 15, 2007 @ 12:00 AM

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