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Mall of America to Implement Parental Escort Policy

BLOOMINGTON, Minn., Aug. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Mall of America officials announced today plans to implement a Parental Escort Policy effective September 20, 1996, to reduce the growing number of unsupervised youth at the Mall on weekend nights.

Under the new policy, youth under 16 will need to be accompanied to the mall by a parent or guardian 21 years or older, from 6 p.m. until closing time on Friday and Saturday nights. Youth under 16 who do not have a parent or guardian with them will not be allowed to enter or remain in Mall of America after 6 p.m.

"We welcome kids to Mall of America and recognize that the mall is an exciting place for them to visit, yet over the years we have seen a steady increase in the number of unsupervised kids coming to Mall of America on weekend evenings," Maureen Bausch, associate general manager said. "We have spent a great deal of time and energy trying to deal with this challenge and to minimize the potential for difficult situations. We have added security, increased the level of communication with the kids, and implemented innovative programs with help from the community. While these measures have been positive and have helped to some extent, the risk of a serious incident continues to increase. We are committed to controlling this situation by asking parents or guardians to be accountable for the actions of children in their care."

In conjunction with implementing the Parental Escort Policy, Mall of America will also introduce family entertainment activities on Friday and Saturday evenings. The free entertainment activities, which will include, among other things, sporting and musical events and educational activities, will be targeted to families with kids under 16.

In the past several years, Mall of America has introduced innovative programs to help open lines of communication with youth. In January 1995, the Mall started a Youth Liaison Program, which is comprised of security officers who work with youth both inside the mall and in the community. The officers, who don't wear traditional security uniforms, interact with kids in the mall, building relationships, trust and respect. The officers also visit schools to answer questions and role play to kids what kind of behavior is appropriate at Mall of America. In addition, they volunteer at youth community events and with community organizations.

In addition, last April, Mall of America implemented the "Mighty Moms" Program, the first of its kind in the country. The "Mighty Moms" are 20 women from the Twin Cities area who work side-by-side with mall security officers on Saturday evenings. This program will be expanded to include a group of fathers in September.

"Mall of America recognized long ago that the solution to any problem with kids needs to come from positive role models within the community," Bausch said. "The Mighty Moms welcome kids to the mall, encourage them to behave, and act as a first level of intervention if the need arises. While these innovative programs have been tremendously successful and have become models for malls around the country, we are still challenged by the large number of unsupervised kids."

Under the Parental Escort Policy a parent or guardian must be 21 years or older and must be able to exercise supervision and control over the youth in their care. Any supervision and control issue or question will be determined by trained security staff in conjunction with mall managers. If it is determined the group is too large or not able to be controlled by their escort, the individuals will be asked to leave the mall. A parent under 16 would also need to be accompanied by an individual 21 or over.

Youth 16 and older must have a valid driver's license, a legally produced picture ID or a Mall of America employee card to be allowed in the mall. Youth who are 16 or older but do not have appropriate identification will also be asked to leave the mall. Youth asked to leave the mall can leave a message for separated parties at a Message Center Database at Guest Service stations or call their parents from the Youth Communication Center. The Youth Communication Center will be located on the lower level of Mall of America near the Management Offices. The Center will be staffed with mall managers, youth liaison officers, "Mighty Moms," and will be outfitted with ten telephones.

Mall of America will hire approximately 30 new officers to help enforce the Parental Escort Policy. On Friday and Saturday evenings, Mall of America security officers will conduct sweeps through the Mall between 6 p.m. and closing. Stations will be set up at 23 mall entrances and outside the anchor stores to check identification of youth. In addition to security, four mall managers will be on staff on Friday and Saturday evenings to assist in implementation of the new policy.

Located in Bloomington, Minn., just 15 minutes from Minneapolis and St. Paul, Mall of America is the nation's largest retail and entertainment complex and attracts more visits annually than Disney World and the Grand Canyon combined. Since opening in Aug. 1992, more than 150 million people have visited Mall of America. In addition to over 420 stores, the mall is home to Knott's Camp Snoopy, the nation's largest indoor theme park; UnderWater World, a 1.2 million gallon walk-through aquarium; an l8-hole miniature golf course; a 14-screen movie theater; nine nightclubs and more.

SOURCE Mall of America
 -0- 08/20/96

/CONTACT: Teresa McFarland of Mall of America, 612-883-8846/

CO: Mall of America ST: Minnesota IN: REA SU:

KW-KS -- MNTU006 -- 6246 08/20/96 10:59 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 20, 1996
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