Parents required for Friday and Saturday night trips to MOA

Emily Roberts

Mall of America’s Parental Escort Policy (PEP) is forcing teenagers to shop with their guardians on weekend evenings.

On Friday and Saturday nights, after 4 p.m., anyone under the age of 16 must be with an adult over the age of 21. People between the ages of 16 and 21 must be prepared to show their identification.

This rule dates back to 1996, however, it is being more strictly enforced. “We have a security officer stationed at every entrance into the Mall of America during PEP. They check the ID of anyone who appears to be under the age of 21,” said Director of Public Relations Daniel Jasper.

As if patrolling America’s largest mall is not difficult enough, another challenge is presented when kids are dropped off without their guardian. “We don’t want the mall to be used as a babysitting service, as it has in the past, said Jasper. Having a guardian somewhere in the mall is not considered sufficient supervision. Therefore, teachers and counselors are hired on the weekend to act as Mighty Moms and Dedicated Dads. “These adults communicate well with kids and are in charge of escorting underage guests to the safe waiting area,” said Jasper.

Since PEP has been in effect, there has been a significant decrease in problems occurring at Mall of America on Friday and Saturday evenings. “We’ve seen an increase in foot traffic and sales– and we hear many good comments from family and youth who appreciate the change,” said Jasper. Although the vast majority of kids at the mall were well behaved, “a handful of kids causes substantial problems,” said Jasper.

In the past 13 years, many other malls across the United States have made the switch. “We were the first major mall to implement this policy in the nation, and since 1996, over a dozen other malls have started similar programs,” said Jasper.