There have been mixed reactions to a recent decision by the Tortola Pier Park (TPP) to bar unsupervised minors from the shopping facility.
The new policy specifies that persons under the age of 17 cannot enter the park unless they are accompanied by an adult. The move follows recent incidents of disorderly conduct from Elmore Stoutt High School students.
Moments after the BVI News publication on the ban, owner of the Sweet Tease store at the Pier Park, Kareem-Nelson Hull used social media site Facebook to voice his displeasure with the move.
“I am completely against the decision to ban all teenagers from freely entering the Pier Park unless accompanied by a 21-year-old adult. Peter should not pay for Paul. How dare TPP decide to ban the very demographic that supports Sweet Tease, Swirlzzz, Crocs, URBAN VI, Body Glam, Envy, and JBY and still, expect rent to be paid?”
He claimed that customers at his establishment have been “well-behaved,” adding that he has developed a good relationship with his young customers.
Hull said he believed Pier Park management was “out of line to do this with no consultation and agreement from its tenants but, rather, a letter telling us it will be implemented.
“And who is TPP to extend the legal age of an adult to require that teens are not only accompanied by an adult but that adult has to be 21 years old? The facility was built for every self-respecting and well-behaved Virgin Islands resident and visitor, so it is the behavioral offenders that must be policed and banned; not all.”
He described the move as being discriminatory against young locals; pointing out that an unaccompanied teenage tourist will be allowed to enter without supervision.
“I am against it. I will not support it. And if you are young and have green money and can behave, Sweet Tease will be open to serve you!”
Meanwhile, a clothing store owner who spoke to BVI News on condition of anonymity said: “I am not in support of the ban because a lot of high school students come here and shop especially around the weekend or if something is happening.”
“People get out of high school at 16 here so to say as a semi-adult you can’t come is crazy. It’s kind of a loss for everybody because they patronize the place just as much as everybody. It’s impacting sales and for something like this to happen in the height of the season… It’s a lot. Especially now when we have just gone through the hurricane and some of us, like myself, who have been looted and was not covered under insurance; I had to scrape up the money to reopen and then I still have to pay my rent and then to turn around and to be blocking people that would pay my rent? That’s ridiculous. It was uncalled for.”
Ban the bad ones
While admitting that she has heard of unruly behaviour of some youngsters, the store owner proposed a solution.
“If they know who has been disruptive and is causing the ruckus throughout the place then put a ban on them. And I think they should up the security around here too because it’s a handful of them and they can’t keep an eye on everything that’s going on.”
She also affirmed that the decision was taken without their input.
“We didn’t even know, it was a decision that they made and implemented and told us about after. Something else could have been done to deter that kind of behaviour.”
Another female footwear and clothing store owner said while everyone should not be painted with the same brush, the move was necessary.
“Peter shouldn’t be paying for Paul, but the children are out of hand. I support it,” she stated.
“Some of these children breaking up the signs out there, having sex in the bathroom and videotaping it – they are really out of hand.”
A minor also shared her views on the matter.
“It’s going to be hard for me because even before Irma, my friends and I would come down here after school especially if it’s a dress-up day, we would take pictures. We would go for ice cream… so now that they have a ban on it would mess up everything.”
Support for the ban
Meanwhile, a mother of a 16-year-old girl who only wanted to be referred to as a concerned parent, said she supports the move.
“I agree with the ban because I have seen where the kids have totally destroyed stuff, they are out of control and with everything that is going on we need some sort of restriction on them,” she said.
The parent continued: “They cannot destroy everything, we lose a lot already and I find the little that we have left, we have to preserve it and bring some sort of order to the place. I am not a lover of the Pier Park for the same reason.”
She said she has no issues accompanying her daughter to the park.
“I didn’t like the idea of her coming down here by herself but she is almost 17 and I am trying to give her that little leeway. The ban makes it worse for those that are trying to behave, but the park does have some children out of control and with the school on the shift system it makes it hard for the security officers or the workers to keep an eye on every child. It is impossible.”
Minister of Youth Affairs and Education, Myron Walwyn said yesterday that he did not approve and called for management at the TPP to reconsider the new policy.
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