“Children Under 18 Should Be Accompanied by Parent at the Mall”

Readers — This ybnszaiien
is not just a tempest in a teacup, it is a tsunami in a thimble: Some 12 year olds went to the movies at a Michigan mall, a survey company asked at least one of them to answer a questionnaire, this lasted 30 minutes and the kid’s parents are OUTRAGED, calling it “borderline kidnapping.” While I agree that if the parents were expecting to meet the kids at a certain time and they were nowhere to be found, that’s egregious, I do not agree that it’s the end of the world as we know it.

Worst of all, at the end of this Onion-esque “investigation” — the reporter acts as if she’s channeling Edward Snowden — the WDIV-TV anchor reminds viewers that the local mall suggests children should not be at the mall without a parent until they are “at least 18 years old.” At which point I guess they can shop for their own Cinnabon or ship off to Afghanistan. – L

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66 Responses to “Children Under 18 Should Be Accompanied by Parent at the Mall”

  1. BL November 3, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    While I agree that these kids were likely not in physical danger, anyone who’d go off with people calling themselves “Quick-Test” for a survey are too financially gullible to be shopping.

  2. Vicki Bradley November 3, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    My daughter is 12 and regularly goes to the mall with her 12-year-old friends, and I’m not about to stop her from doing that. Really, is there no end to this ridiculousness?!

  3. EB November 3, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    Hee hee hee. Wait until the stores get wind of the idea that their biggest customer base won’t be allowed to go to the mall w/o a parent . . .

  4. Paul November 3, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    I took the bus to the mall all the time when I was 16. It’s not a big deal. I avoid all the stupid mall surveys and I will teach my kid to do the same.

  5. JP Merzetti November 3, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    We’re getting younger by the minute.
    One day, adults might actually wind up becoming extinct.
    You see, the problem with maturity is that it is capable of critical thinking.
    And good heavens, we don’t want that now, do we – when there is so much to criticize.
    As to the continuing love-hate relationship with youth and younger…I think the rule-makers should just jump into the fountain and be done with it. That psycho tummy tuck of the soul, as it were.
    It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Fear and loathing, comedy and pathos: A society too busy value-adding kids to ever take the time to actually understand them.
    (Good lord – you mean they’re actually………….human?)
    The land of the free has become the land of the free-marketed zombies. A corporate enculturated no-fly zone.
    For God and country doth the pledge fall flat on its nose.
    Bovine branded, corralled and cornered into eternal thumb-sucking submission.
    They grow up too fast for the drama of jaded mischiefs.
    Not fast enough for the public participation that was their birthright. E-collared and leashed like private pets.
    The encumbrance of accountability becomes terrific, and terrifyingly dumbstruck in its exactitude.
    Moral suasion lurches through our privatized Main Streets and sanitizes our sensibility straight into whitewashed, bleached banality.
    Kids used to grow up.
    Now we defy nature.

  6. Warren November 3, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    The 18 yrs old thing is ridiculous, as I am sure there are store employees that are not 18.

    Most importantly Mom needs to look in the mirror. If her kids went off like that, she failed to teach them how to handle themselves.

  7. Wendy W November 3, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    The kids could have told the pollsters “no” and met their parents on time. This one is on the kid’s backs, not the pollsters. I also suspect that unless they were doing a kid-specific poll the agency probably has policies re: approaching unaccompanied children, but that’s still not a legal matter, just a administrative one.

    The mall policy re: under-18s may be framed as a safety policy, but I bet it’s really aimed at the local gang of teen thugs that trash the mall on a semi-regular basis. One more instance of a few brats ruining a good thing for everybody.

  8. lollipoplover November 3, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    The problem with this story is the outraged parents. They are misplacing their outrage with the survey company and not their children.
    When you allow a group of 12 year-olds to go to the movies alone, they should be held accountable for their actions, especially if they went off with *someone with a clipboard* into a closed office, enticed by the prospect of earning money. If they are this gullible, they don’t deserve to go to the movies by themselves.

    Don’t call it kidnapping. These kids voluntarily went off with random sales people. They knew to meet their parents after the movie and their stupid actions caused the problem, not the survey takers. That’s like bitching about a 12 year-old falling for a sales pitch at Holister and being tricked into buying overpriced, hipster clothes that make her look horrible. Oh, the humanity.

    With independence comes responsibility. Stop pointing fingers and hold the kids accountable for not saying “No, I have to meet my parents” which they should have done.
    What a load of crap.

  9. Suzanne Lucas November 3, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    I’m actually really surprised that the survey company policies allowed them to take 12 year olds into an office behind a closed door. If I were the boss, there is no way on earth I would authorize that. 12 year olds must be interviewed in a public space. For the protection of the survey workers. An accusation from a kid can ruin your life.

  10. Liz November 3, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    Although the kids shouldn’t have gone off with someone, I’ve been a victim of the “It’ll just take a minute” survey people before. It’s hard enough for me as an adult to extract myself, so I can understand the kids didn’t feel able to leave – especially as they’re not peers, they’re children presumably used to obeying adult instructions. Maybe that’s where the “kidnapping” comes in too: they wanted to leave but didn’t feel allowed.

  11. Donna November 3, 2014 at 10:53 am #

    Why are the parents mad at anyone other than their children? If the kids were supposed to meet them immediately after the movie, the kids should not have chosen to do something that might impact that.

    I also don’t get their upset over questioning their children without them present. This was a marketing poll not a police interrogation! Don’t send your children out in public alone if it bothers you if people talk to them without you.

  12. lollipoplover November 3, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    When telemarketers call our house, I’ve taught my kids to reply, “We don’t accept telephone solicitations, thank you” and then hang up. Same goes when out in public or around the spritzers in the perfume department. They have a right to refuse, politely, any unwanted request and I encourage them to do so as they are very annoying. That’s part of my parenting job.

    I can’t even watch this mom getting interviewed and her ridiculous notion of granting her consent. She gave her consent when she entrusted her kids to go to the movies alone. If she has such a problem with these children’s failure to meet at the agreed upon time and wants to scapegoat the survey company, she just made a complete ass of herself with this badly made undercover video and ruined it for all of the independent kids that want to go to the movies and understand how to follow basic instructions.

  13. Sharon November 3, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    I have taught my 13 year old to say that she can’t be interviewed without a parent present. She can also say if she is late to the pickup spot she is in big trouble with me.
    She must stay with the friends that she came with.

    I tell her to use the caller id on the phone and only pick up if it someone she knows. Election day is tomorrow and a lot of the calls today and not necessary.

  14. SKL November 3, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    “at least” 18 years old? LOL. LOL. So for some young people it’s 19yo? 21yo? 50yo?

  15. SKL November 3, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    I would punish my kid for that, not scream at the mall people.

  16. MichaelF November 3, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    Most importantly, why is this news?

  17. Virginia November 3, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    “You won’t believe what happened behind the closed doors”? They watched a movie trailer and answered questions….um, not news. Was the parent pickup worried? Yup, I bet she was. A lecture to all the boys that they best be at the meeting place at the right time or there will be no more movie outings for a while. Done.

  18. Coasterfreak November 3, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    “Most importantly, why is this news?”

    My thoughts exactly! I haven’t watched the video because such things are blocked on my employers network, but regardless, I wonder why this is even considered newsworthy? We’ve gotten to the point where people not only feel like they are entitled to know every little thing about every little thing (including things that are none of their business), but also that if you feel wronged in any tiny way at all, the best course of action is to go on the news and express your outrage. IMHO, it’s a sickness.

    Earlier today I was browsing Yahoo and came across an article about a house fire in Maine. There were deaths involved, and is certainly tragic, but I couldn’t help but wonder why it was anything other than local news? I’m in Texas and I know there was a house fire in Maine!

  19. J- November 3, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    When I was a teenager, I loved taking those “questionnaires.” Really, they are marketing surveys, and I never took one that didn’t come with some sort of reward, e.g., gift card or whatever.

    My favorite were the ones where I had to watch three movie trailers and then answer some questions about if I’d want to see the movie in theaters and why/why not. Those usually got you free tickets to the theater and a Drink/popcorn/candy combo. Yeah, it was 30 min of my day, but it was also $30 worth of free stuff.

    This report is the dumbest thing I have read so far this week. Then again it’s only Monday.

  20. Ev November 3, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    Age regulations are actually a pretty common thing at the malls where I live; as a 21-year-old woman who looks younger than I am, I have, on multiple occasions, been stopped and interrogated by “mall cops” about my age and subsequently have had to show my ID to prove that I am an adult who is free to patronize the stores unaccompanied. Talk about embarrassing, once they even had the nerve to question the validity of my ID! I brought the issue up to mall management, and all they did was get my name and put me on a list for the security to not bother me about my age. Ridiculous.

  21. hineata November 3, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

    I agree with the under-eighteen thing, actually. No child belongs in a mall. They should be out in the fields tending sheep or planting cotton ……

  22. Matt November 3, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    It seems like there is some missing information, and multiple things in play.

    On doing the survey and watching the trailer, the mother seems overprotective, especially since trailers for PG-13 can play in PG movies. I also have no problem doing surveys, so long as it doesn’t lead to spam.

    We don’t know what the kid’s instructions were either. If it was “We’ll pick you up at 8:30”, and the movie got out at 8:10, and the survey taker said it’ll only be a minute, I’m not inclined to fault the kid thinking “Sure, I’ve got 20 minutes”.

    If it then gets to 8:27, and the kid says “I have to go, I’m getting picked up, and they didn’t let him leave, then that is a legitimate issue.

    The mother says some dumb, overprotective stuff, but it does seem like there is possibly an actual problem. If some overprotective busybody tried to stop a kid from riding a bike home, I’d be screaming false imprisonment. Possibly something similar here. Can’t leave til the survey is done.

  23. Neil M. November 3, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    It must be nice to have such a leisurely life that one can worry about this nonsense. Poor parents all over the nation who occupy themselves with feeding and housing their are very likely shaking their heads — no, wait, they’re busy feeding and housing their kids.

  24. M November 3, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    You can get a driver’s license in our area at age 16.

    If a person is old enough to drive a 4000 lb vehicle at speeds up to 70 MPH, they are old enough drive to the mall and shop without their mommy.

  25. Ravana November 3, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

    The biggest crime here was the kids only got $2 for taking the survey. When I was a kid (back in the dark ages) I did those mall surveys all the time and when cash was handed out it was at least $5, although sometimes you got coupons for free popcorn or the like instead.

  26. Montreal Dad November 3, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    They let a 12-year old watch a trailer for a PG13 movie!??!?!?! SHARPEN THE GUILLOTINE!!!

  27. Stacy November 3, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    It sounds like the employees violated official company policy requiring consent forms for minors. But what an over-the-top dramatic news story, considering that NOTHING BAD HAPPENED. Her son was traumatized? Mine would be happy he was paid $2 to watch some trailers. Has she considered that maybe he exaggerated when he said he wasn’t allowed to leave so mom would turn her irritation away from him and toward the survey company?

    As for not being alone at the mall until “at least age eighteen,” that is ridiculous unless the particular mall has had a serious problem with gangs of teens destroying property, stealing, or fighting. The only rule at our mall is that teens can’t be there unaccompanied during school hours. The stores and food court would not want to give up all that good business.

  28. JJ November 3, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    “Until they are at least 18”. That was my favorite part! At least 18 if not 21 or 24 I guess. And ps aren’t most mall patrons 16-18? I know in my day that was who was hanging out at Space Port and Orange Julius.

    This was a good reminder though to tell my kids about the survey people and what participation entails (time- and privacy-wise).

  29. Alexander November 3, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    The real crime is they only paid him 2 bucks.

    The kid was a bit of brat too. If he knew people were expecting to give him a ride at a certain time he should have either called to let them know he’s delayed, or not gone off to take a survey. This report makes it sound like the 12 year old was completely helpless and unable to make his own decisions. I assume he wasn’t forced into the survey office at gunpoint.

  30. Nicole November 3, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    The first person this mom should be mad at is her son, because when you tell your kid to meet his grandma at a certain place at a certain time to be picked up, well, he’d better darn well do it. Stopping in the arcade, going to a shop in the mall, or agreeing to take a survey are not good excuses for being late.

    Having said that, while the whole “undercover” investigation expose is a bunch of nonsense and the TV station should be embarrassed at themselves for it, this survey company made two big mistakes. First, you do not fail to get parental consent for your survey and then say that you did. This company is either shady and lied about it or is so disorganized that they let some total stranger sign the consent form with no questions asked. Second, if a 12 year old kid says they have to leave right now because mom is going to be angry, or you have an angry mom in your lobby yelling to let her kid go, you let them go. You don’t say they can’t, or they have to finish, or they are busy. Honestly, I get filing a complaint. I would just leave out the nutball stuff about how it was “almost” kidnapping and how the PG-13 traumatized my 12 year old and focus more on the totally unprofessional survey company that the mall might not want to continue associating themselves with for legitimate business reasons.

  31. SOA November 3, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    There is a big mall where I live that bans under 18 on Friday and Saturday nights. They have done so since about 1998. The reason was there was a lot of problems with gang activity, teens being too loud and rowdy, starting fights, not moving out of the way so shoppers could shop, stealing, loitering. They hardly ever actually spent any money.

    Now personally I do think the policy stinks for good teenagers who just want to shop or get something to eat and can behave themselves. I was a teen like that. Many of my friends were like that. But the bad teens ruin it for everyone else. So you better shop in the day on the weekends or the weekdays or bring a parent with you.

    You can still work in the mall under 18 but you have to go straight to work and then straight home afterwards.

    I can understand why they made the policy because I have seen some of the bad stuff go down there. There is a huge gang problem in our city. But I also feel for the responsible teens that this effects negatively.

    I think the whole freaking out because their kid took a voluntary survey is dumb. That is your kid’s fault for agreeing to do it. Take it out on him. Also don’t just drop kids off at the mall for no reason to hang out. They need to be there to shop or eat or they don’t need to be there. I don’t go there to hang out and neither should they. I know teens need somewhere to hang out but that is what their homes are for. Parents should make their homes more welcoming for teens to hang out there.

  32. pentamom November 3, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    That’s interesting….all the 16 year old kids working at the food court would need to have mommy come with them and stand around watching them?

  33. Papilio November 3, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    I presume they didn’t show the interview with the actual kid because he wasn’t anywhere near upset enough…

    ‘Storm in een glas water’ indeed. Over here it’s very common to see little groups of 12-18yos cycling into the city center* after school to go (window)shopping and hang out for a couple of hours before they head home.

    *You have malls, we have shopping streets/areas: http://www.beleefwoerden.com/customer/plugins/Profielen/upload/centrum2.jpg

  34. Michelle November 3, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    Utter nonsense. After reading some of the comments here, I thought that MAYBE there was more to it, but no. She’s really just upset because they asked her kid to watch a movie trailer and do a survey WITHOUT HER CONSENT! OMG!!!! Ridiculous.

    If it was my kids, I’d be angry AT MY KIDS. But only if answering the survey made them late. If they did the survey and showed up on time, I’d be pleased for them that they got some money. (Although, $2? Lame.)

    The mall’s response about keeping kids under 18 with their parents is probably just a CYA answer to this story in particular. “Oh, you let your kid come to our mall alone and weren’t pleased that someone spoke to them without your consent? Well, you shouldn’t be letting your kids go to the mall without a parent!!”

    Although, my daughter had some trouble with our local mall a year or two ago. Her church youth group took all the (high school aged) kids to the mall and sent them on a “photo scavenger hunt” — they had to find and photograph various things. The adults were sitting in the food court, when a security guard brought the kids back saying they couldn’t walk around the mall alone. I complained, and the mall management insisted they have no such rule. :/

  35. SOA November 3, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    Unfortunately they should take stuff like this on a case by case basis that if a teen is acting up, remove them and ban them in the future without parents with them. But the problem with that is then you get people crying discrimination when the teen they kick out happens to be a certain minority. Which is mostly what was happening in my area. So they ended up just having to do a blanket ban.

    Of course most teens don’t need their parents with them at the mall, but it is the few who act up that ruin it for everyone else.

    My husband was a janitor at the mall once in college for a summer job. He had some little thought they were badass teens mouthing off to him making fun of him for being a janitor. He told them off and cussed them out and they were taken aback and was like “What would your boss say if I told him you said that?” and my husband said “He would laugh and say you deserved it”. Which would probably be true because his boss was awesome. That shut them up and they never bothered them again after that.

    Maybe if we make kids suffer natural consequences like being kicked out of the mall or told off by a janitor they might learn to behave.

  36. EricS November 3, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    People who agree with this, needs to be accompanied by a mentally stable, and reasonable adult. Although one would like to think so, but older age doesn’t necessarily mean they have more common sense, and are smarter.

    I find my kid to be smarter than many adults he comes in contact with. Has more common sense and reason. Less paranoid. And self sufficient for his age of 8.

    Maybe he can hold these paranoid adults’ hands in the mall, so they aren’t so scared. lol

  37. Jessica November 3, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    Yeah, those surveys take a bit, but the last one I took part in was because they offered me $5. They may also offer coupons to restaurants or stores in the mall too. To an adult, that may seem like pittance, but ask a 12-year-old if they’ll answer a few questions for $5 and the answer will more than likely be a resounding yes.

  38. Daniel Dubois November 3, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    Actual LOL at the last line.

  39. Tiny Tim November 3, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    When I was a kid, malls were “safe.” That was the point. It’s where parents dropped off their kids for a couple of hours to get rid of them for a bit. Sometimes my parents would stick around and do some shopping, sometimes not, but the whole point was that it was a place where you could safely stash your 12-year-olds for awhile.

    I’m not sure exactly how old I was when wandering around the mall alone or with friends became normal, but it definitely wasn’t older than 12.

  40. lollipoplover November 3, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

    “And ps aren’t most mall patrons 16-18? I know in my day that was who was hanging out at Space Port and Orange Julius.”

    I’m having flashbacks to the movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and days when we actually went to malls. One of my first jobs was as a beauty advisor at a department store in a mall. I had to do makeovers on anyone who requested them, including the cross dressing men. I remember the first time I applied blush with a cotton ball and it dragged on the stubbly beard growth as I looked on horrified. He bought everything I used on him and I worked on commission so I got over it quickly. There are some interesting people that frequent malls.
    I haven’t been to a mall in years.

  41. tdr November 3, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    It’s bad enough I have to drive them at the mall, now I have to stay with them, too? I guess the spector of your parents hanging with you at the mall is enough to make you want to stay home and skype with your friends all day.

  42. Puzzled November 3, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

    Wow, amazing. The end may be the worst part, but the whole thing is just…wow. I don’t have a tv, so maybe this is considered normal, I don’t know, but really?

    At the same time – last I checked, survey takers didn’t have powers of arrest. I’d be curious what “didn’t let them leave” means. If it means “said if they leave they won’t get paid” then fine. If it means “they said they want to go, and we said no and barred the doors” not fine. In between – I’d err on the side of not fine. If you’re going to interact with children, it is important to be clear and understand how they think. If you can’t do that, then don’t bring kids into your business. If you think saying “no” when they ask to leave will be understood as “you won’t get paid” instead of “I am an authority figure and will not let you go” then you don’t know kids well enough to work with them in this setting.

    Granted, the reason it comes across to kids that way is precisely that we make adults into authority figures by virtue of age, but that’s a separate issue – it’s not solved by ignoring it.

    Also, the mall’s statement was grammatically incorrect.

  43. Emily Morris November 3, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

    Back in my mall roaming teenhood (it’s what we did on Saturdays) I got in the habit of trying for those surveys. Why? Usually they wanted me to test a product and that meant a freebie. I was aware enough of when to say no thank-you. Still, I get the survey thing isn’t for everyone.

    Indeed, why is this news?

  44. Lindsey November 3, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    Same with the macarthur mall in Norfolk VA!

  45. SteveS November 3, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

    While I would certainly be annoyed at some surveyors lying to my kid and saying that they had my consent to take a survey, I would use it to teach my kid that they don’t have to talk to these people.

    Unfortunately, a lot of people will go along with someone who appears to be in authority. I remember an experiment from several decades ago where a group of social psychologists put on lab coats and set up a barricade on a road going into New Jersey. Cars would stop and they would tell them that, “New Jersey was closed, temporarily.” Most people would turn around and go back, not even bothering to question the absurdity of what they were being told.

    IIRC, a fair number of Detroit area malls (like in the original story) don’t let unaccompanied minors in on weekends for the same reason that someone else described. Large groups were being obnoxious and harassing other shoppers.

  46. Ben November 3, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    Kids have been going to the mall ever since malls were invented. It is a staple of American society and a rite of passage for kids . You might be too young to drive but at least you can be responsible enough to go to the mall and shop or see a movie. Lets not infantilize kids and bore them to death, because that will happen.

    Also children under 18 is a tautology. They could just have said children without mentioning the arbitrary age cut off.

  47. Hillary J November 3, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    While I agree the tweens (because 12 year olds are no longer children) are repositionable for missing their appointment, the researchers here are not innocent by ethical research standards. In not sure how the ethics of marketing research differ from those of psychological research, but in psychology it is incredibly unethical to either work with children without parental consent or to require a participant to continue with a study against their will. To do both would definitely get a researcher in serious trouble: loss of job, reputation, and future prospects. Again, that is in the feild of psychology, marketing ethics may be more relaxed.

  48. David B November 3, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    I have a 17 year old son. The idea that he couldn’t go to the mall on his own is silly beyond belief. He drives, works, and has relationships with the opposite sex. And they’re going to stop him from going to the mall? The control crowd is seriously disconnected from reality. They think if they issue a decree, that it will (a) be followed (b) have the desired effect of making kids safer. Nonsense.

  49. SKL November 4, 2014 at 1:50 am #

    I took the bus to the mall (alone) by age 10. Don’t tell anyone! 😛

    I don’t remember anyone asking me to do a survey, but I do remember politicians paying us in popsicles to distribute flyers – without my parents’ knowledge or permission. Oh no!

  50. Jenny Islander November 4, 2014 at 2:02 am #

    I predict that this will go over locally about as well as the periodic attempts to force high school students to eat lunch on campus in our town. The fast food joints that are a five-minute walk away do not like the idea at all.

  51. Yocheved November 4, 2014 at 3:56 am #

    I think that the REAL crime here, is this horribly produced video. The “scare voices” and the words flashing on the screen WHAT COULD GO WRONG?, the nearly hysterical mothers, all of it. So incredibly cheesy and unprofessional that if I didn’t know better, I’d think that Lenore had been redirected to The Onion as a prank.

  52. T.S. November 4, 2014 at 4:07 am #

    Our local mall limited the hours for unaccompanied minors. However, it wasn’t to protect the minors. It was to reduce the thuggish teenage behavior. Incidents included a small riot where some stores were ransacked, fights, intimidating shoppers, etc.

  53. Braaainz November 4, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    The “investigative” reporter who broke this alarming and disturbing story can be reached at kdrew@wdiv.com. I suggest that concerned individuals email her and let her know how appropriate this piece of journalism was.

  54. Miguel November 4, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    Sometimes my wife and I hesitate to let our kids do things they should be free to do…and it’s typically not because we’re afraid for their safety (though of course, we want our kids to always be safe). The reason is typically because in a worse case scenario, we don’t want to be labeled as “bad parents”. Over the years, I’ve read MANY cases where parents have forgotten their child in the car or where their child drowned in a backyard pool. My heart immediately goes out to the parents in those cases for THEIR OWN loss (though I realize in some cases, the parents are to blame). And to my dismay, the comments I typically read or hear are people condemning the parents for being stupid or not loving the kids, even when there is little to no evidence to suggest it wasn’t an honest mistake. So in regard to letting my kids go to the movies alone, we don’t fear for their safety. However, I tend to think to myself, if something actually happened, could we get in trouble for this as parents? Will our friends and family condemn us for being bad parents? Can CPS take our children away? And who creates this standard of parenting? In my opinion, the media does. But anyway, I still let my kids do a lot more than other parents I know.

  55. Jill November 4, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    When I think of all the time I spent at the mall when I was a kid, and nobody asked me if I want to take a survey and get free stuff, I feel angry. I practically LIVED at the mall. Maybe they didn’t do surveys back then. I would certainly have liked to have participated in one, and I expect my mother would have been pleased if a got a coupon for some free popcorn, or an Orange Julius or whatever they give out.

  56. Joan November 4, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    The rule that all teens under 18 must be with a parent is ridiculous…that much I agree with. But I need to go against the majority here and confess I’d be mad at the survey company.

    Just because a 12 year-old “can” say no doesn’t mean he can’t be manipulated into saying yes. A lot of those survey companies are downright sneaky about how long you’re going to be answering questionnaires. We teach our kids to view adults as authority and listen without question. So, given that, let’s not get too angry at the kid.

    I don’t like the idea of a minor being led into a closed-door back office. Sure the kid is free to leave, but do they know that?

    The survey company needs to ask “are you 18 or older?” before taking any kid into a closed-door location. That’s not me being paranoid, that’s me realizing that most 12 year-old’s might not be good at saying no yet. That’s just life.

  57. Emily Morris November 4, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    I’m just going to fault everyone for contributing to crumbling community:

    Kids: Take responsibility and respect your parents. If you promise to meet someone at such time, be there.

    Parents: Teach your kids to be responsible and to acknowledge their failures.

    Survey Folks: Stick to basic ethics.

    All I hear from this incident is “Wah, wah, we will all blame everyone else but ourselves.”

  58. Papilio November 4, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    @Joan: “[…] that’s me realizing that most 12 year-old’s might not be good at saying no yet.”

    Okay, the 12yo might not have liked what happened, but all this really was was a slightly negative experience (if at all, I got the impression it was mostly negative for the parents) with a questionnaire.
    Is this really a life-traumatizing experience that children should be protected from, instead of just letting them experience what happens when you say yes to those questionnaire folks? I mean, he wasn’t murdered/beaten up/eaten/abused/infected with a disease or anything, he was just sitting at a table filling in a questionnaire. Next time he might say no, now that he knows the consequences of saying yes. Isn’t that life, too?

  59. Donna November 4, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    “A lot of those survey companies are downright sneaky about how long you’re going to be answering questionnaires.”

    Yes, they are and now this kid has learned a lesson about marketers. Good for him. He will now have more information if this happens again. That is how we learn.

    “We teach our kids to view adults as authority and listen without question.”

    I certainly don’t teach my child that and I question why anyone would ever teach that to a child. I don’t even expect my child to always obey ME without question, let alone strangers. Yes, it can be annoying to debate with a 9 year old, but better to raise a thinker than a sheep.

    “The survey company needs to ask “are you 18 or older?” before taking any kid into a closed-door location.”

    It is very possible that the marketing company needed the opinion of tweens, not adults. We are talking about a product that is often geared toward a specific demographic. Asking a bunch of adults about movie trailers geared towards tweens is not exactly going to yield great results. The one time I got caught up in one of these, it was for Dirty Dancing. The marketers were only stopping women because that was the target audience for the movie. Asking a bunch of middle aged men what they thought about movie posters for Dirty Dancing would have provided completely useless information.

    Handcuffing the producers/marketers of movies for kids to only being able to seek the opinion of adults would definitely impact their bottom line. I think marketers need to be more honest in dealing with EVERYONE, but I don’t think they should be limited to only interviewing adults.

  60. Warren November 4, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

    Would love to see a bunch of teenagers walking a picket line in protest of the age limit. Calling for all teens to boycott the stores in the mall.

    The Gap, Levis, and the like would not be impressed.

  61. Emily November 4, 2014 at 5:32 pm #

    @Warren–You made some good points. The mall is looking to ban unsupervised “kids” up to age eighteen (air quotes because I don’t really consider a seventeen-year-old, or even a fifteen or sixteen-year-old, to be much of a “kid” anymore). However, this is a really dumb move, because they’re forgetting that teenagers are not only the main clientele of a lot of the stores (Gap, Abercrombie, Hollister, and Claire’s or similar for the younger teen/pre-teen set), but also a large part of the mall staff. I think minimum wage for under-18’s is less than it is for legal adults, so the mall is either going to be practically empty, or the mall management is going to have to pay adults more money to work the teen-oriented clothing stores and the smoothie stands and whatnot, but they’ll have less money to pay them, because fewer teenagers will be coming to the mall in the first place. We already live in a shaky economy, and this isn’t going to help things.

  62. Puzzled November 4, 2014 at 10:47 pm #

    Donna – you don’t and I don’t (which is part of why I don’t work in schools anymore) but schools do, unfortunately. It’s the part of the curriculum that is absorbed the most.

    Again, if all that happened was that they told them “if you leave, you won’t get paid” or equivalent, fine. If the kids were told “no, you may not leave this room” I don’t think that’s something that should be said to a kid. It also shouldn’t be said to an adult, but at least the adult knows that he can laugh in your face if you try it.

  63. Donna November 5, 2014 at 8:08 am #

    Puzzled – You greatly overestimate the vast majority of adults. If it was so easy for adults to walk away, I wouldn’t be nearly as busy as I am. Heck, I had to explain to my otherwise intelligent, college-educated best friend that she doesn’t actually have to let CPS into her home and she can talk to them in the front yard.

    Obviously a marketer is different than a cop or CPS worker, but we humans do tend to not want to make waves. That is why the marketers feel free to say it will only take a minute when it will really take 30. They KNOW that the vast majority, once they get them engaged, will not walk away.

  64. Lea November 5, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

    This is ridiculous. The only one that mom should be mad at is her kid. He didn’t follow her directions and I suspect he told a couple of lies.

    I’ve taken those same movie surveys (along with my kid). They don’t force you to go, hold you captive in a locked room and you aren’t truly alone with the survey people. You’re usually in a room with multiple people watching a movie clip (either as a group on o individual screens with headphones on). Most of the questions are written or on a screen, you aren’t actually alone with an employee for more than a few seconds. Those few seconds are in rooms with open doors or big glass windows others see into.

    This child was not held captive or forced into doing a survey. He wanted to do it to make the money. I suspect that when he was confronted by an upset mom, he lied his way out of it. I suspect this because I was once twelve, screwed up and didn’t leave the mall when I was suppose to. I had some rather creative stories as to exactly why it wasn’t my fault I was late.

    This kid wanted the money offered and didn’t think through the being late thing. It’s also real easy to fake parental consent on the phone. If he knew his mom wouldn’t say OK and I suspect he did, he takes out his cell and says he’s calling his mom for permission. In reality he is calling a female friend, older sister of a friend or any female he thinks is willing to lie and say she is mom and give permission. He has a short chat with them and hands the phone to the survey person who gets all the right answers and thinks they are talking to mom. The kid never dreamed mom would find out much less follow up by talking to the survey people.

    Apparently she is willing to believe her son was forced to go into some offices, held their against his will and forced to take surveys and watch movie trailers against his will by the big bad survey company. I find this odd considering this is the same son that she trusted to have the brain power and physical ability to safely handle himself at the movies and make good choices on his own, without an adult. Suddenly when he screws up he is a completely powerless infant who was shanghaied by bad people and forced to do things he had no control over? Mama needs a reality check and to put the blame where it lies, on her son. He screwed up. Survey takers have been around forever they aren’t scary or the boogie men, they aren’t stealing our kids.

    This mother and the news people are a bit looney with all their dramatics and over the top exaggerations. “borderline kidnapping”, how ridiculous. “at least 18”, that implies that maybe they should even wait until they are 19, 20, 21 before they go parent-less…really folks can we be sillier? Our mall has 14 and 15 year old working in it. Is it best if they have a parent accompany them to work or maybe just escort them around on their lunch break?

    When the heck is society going to let the kids grow up? When exactly do they get to spread their wings and take responsibility for their choice, both good and bad? If you keep even minor self sufficiency skills and responsibility (such as going to the mall by themselves), from them until they are 18 and official adults, there is no way they are going to be prepared for real adult responsibility. Things like bill paying, employment, taking charge or their own schedule, joining the military, going to college, renting an apartment…..They will be far to overwhelmed by the little things (that they should have mastered years before) to handle the big things. It’s a recipe for having your 25 year old living at home because they can’t cope on their own yet.

  65. Lynn November 7, 2014 at 7:19 am #

    I would say under 12, yes. At some point we have to trust our children. Its our job as parents to teach our children to be smart, saavy and aware so they are equipped to be independent in this world.

  66. Dirk November 13, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    How is this not the kids fault? These parents just don’t want to blame the kids or themselves.