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Local Teens Unfazed by Chaperone Policy at Atlantic Terminal Mall

Teenagers are no longer welcome inside Target and the Atlantic Terminal Mall unless they are chaperoned by an adult during the weekday.
Minors under the age of 18 cannot enter Target or Atlantic Terminal Mall during the weekday without a chaperone.

On a recent Friday winter afternoon, Sylvia Kim, a 17-year-old high school senior, wondered why she was eating a bag of chips outside in the cold.

“I mean, where are we supposed to go?” she asked, as she huddled with a group of her friends on a park bench at Betty Carter Park, a tiny triangular public space at the intersection of Fulton Street and Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene. “I really don’t think we’re a threat.”

The threat Kim was referring to was the recent enactment of a chaperone policy by Madison International Realty, which runs Atlantic Terminal Mall. A few weeks ago, the company started to enforce a long-standing rule that teens cannot enter the mall during the weekday without a chaperone. 

Kim said she had heard about the chaperone rule a few weeks ago when a group of her friends were denied entry. She hasn’t tried entering the mall since then.

“I did like going to Target, but whatever,” she said. “I guess I’ll go to another location.”

Like similar properties in New York and across the country, the Atlantic Terminal Mall has had a policy for several years restricting unaccompanied minors from entering the mall without being accompanied by an adult, according to a Madison International Realty spokesman. 

Atlantic Terminal Mall has been a popular hang out for local teens after school. . Photo: Kaya Laterman for BK Reader

“The policy was established to foster a safe environment for individuals, families, and retailers as Atlantic Terminal continues to serve as a hub for the local community and beyond,” he said via email. 

No one has said why the chaperone policy was suddenly enforced, but the speculation is that there were complaints that too many teenagers were hanging out at the mall after school, some of whom caused disruptive behavior.

The spokesman did not confirm if teenagers were causing issues at the mall, and the New York Police Department did not return a query email. 

Angelica Stephens, who was shopping with her daughter Trinity Stephens inside Target on Friday, said she would prefer the mall provide increased security, rather than banning teenagers from entering. Target now has a sign at the entrance that says, “All guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult Monday through Friday at this Target store.”

“I do feel bad for them, as this mall was supposed to be a safe space for them,” Stephens, 47, said. 

Her daughter agreed: “I feel like I’m being punished and I haven’t even done anything.”

Stephens said she did notice a lot of police officers and store security guards during her visit, which may prompt the rule to be lifted if things remain calm. 

“I think a ban goes too far,” she said. 

Recently, there were six police officers around the mall, two of whom were standing outside, several on the first floor and one officer at the main third-floor entrance to Target. In addition, there was mall security at each entrance and more guarding the escalators. 

Target did not respond to an email seeking comment. 

High school senior Ray’shon Pitts said the ban so far hadn’t affected him, likely because he looks like he's over 18. 

“I keep my headphones in and ignore the guys at the door,” Pitts said.

Pitts, who is 17, often goes to McDonald’s to grab something to eat before his commute home to Canarsie. He was hanging out with his three friends, who all said they had witnessed one to two fights inside the mall last year, but didn’t think it was a big deal. 

Meanwhile, Kim and her crew weren’t alone in the cold; there were another half a dozen small clusters of teenagers, doing what young adolescents do: being loud, eating and vaping.

“I’m looking forward to spring so I don’t have to do this everyday,” Kim said as she finished eating her bag of chips. “Then I’ll want to be outside anyway.”

Kaya Laterman

About the Author: Kaya Laterman

Kaya Laterman is a long-time news reporter and editor based in Brooklyn.
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