DEARBORN, MI-Teens looking to spend their babysitting cash at the Fairlane Town Center had better bring a chaperone if they plan to shop at night beginning this summer. Annoyed by what they deem are rude, loitering teens–known to scare off older customers–officials at the state’s second-largest mall are pulling rank on teens and children who frequent the complex at night.

Beginning June 1, anyone under age 18 will need an escort aged 21 or older to do business in the mall after 5 p.m. It’s a move mall officials say is not discrimatory, but rather needed to protect other customers who want to shop in peace.

“It’s recognition of the rights of our richly diverse customer base, those people who want to shop without being inconvenienced,” Fairlane manager Catherine O’Malley says.

Merchants have long complained that evening customers were being driven away by rude, unruly, loud teens that weren’t there to shop. “We recognize and appreciate young customers, but we have tried many things and we have researched the issue. We feel this policy is fair,” O’Malley says.

The new policy is being posted on placards throughout the 165-store facility. Printed in English, Arabic and Spanish, the rule is aimed at a crowd of more than 2,500 youths who gathers regularly at the mall for “socialization,” O’Malley says.

Mall officials, such as O’Malley, acknowledge the move could have a negative impact on sales at first, but expect an influx of older shoppers to return in greater numbers when word gets out about corralling the youths.

Sherrita Wright manager at Forever 21, a women’s clothing store aimed at customers age 13 and over, says she is torn about the decision, but also in support. She says only about “three out of 10″ teens cause problems, but acknowledged the situation needs fixing “before school gets out for the summer.”

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