Is it time to ban teens from all NJ malls?
Earlier this month multiple arrests had to be made at Hamilton Mall in Atlantic County when chairs and punches flew. Many teenagers were taken into custody and some law abiding mall-goers said they genuinely feared for their life in the riot-like conditions.
A few months back chaos broke out at Cherry Hill Mall when a number of juveniles were arrested and authorities had to break up a crowd of nearly 1,000 people. More teens fighting in large numbers happened that same month at The Mills at Jersey Gardens. Loud bangs from that fight caused the false perception of gunfire and there was a near stampede situation.
More recently, Bridgewater Commons was the scene of a chaotic brawl Thursday night. A huge fight broke out in the food court then spilled into the parking lot. 40 to 50 people were involved. As police were getting control of the situation, things got worse when shots fired were reported. A tactical unit even had to respond. Police still aren't sure if gunshots occurred.
In NJ and around the country melees like these are happening at malls and they often have a common denominator. Teenagers. Some malls in New Jersey already ban teenagers who are unaccompanied by an adult from entering their buildings on certain hours and days. This is nothing new. These bans were being debated even back in the 90's. Is it time all malls in the Garden State instituted such bans?
Thursday's incident hit home with me as Bridgewater Commons is the mall to which I take my kids. They could easily find themselves in the middle of one of these teenage explosions. My 13 yr old, 11 yr old and 2 yr old were in that very food court just days before the brawl. Makes me sick to think in a place with a Lego store and a Disney store I have to worry about bored idiots getting violent.
Banning is a tough call. What about all the teenagers who are good and would never involved themselves in such things? Also, some malls ban unaccompanied teens only on weekends. Bridgewater happened at 6:30pm on a Thursday night. Is the answer a 24/7, 7 day a week ban? This is certainly something that lawmakers should stay out of. It needs to be decided on a case by case basis by the business owners themselves. But would you want the companies that operate Jersey's malls make that call? Tell us in the poll below.
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