It looks like those clods in Chicago finally started paying attention to how we do things down here in Joliet.
It’s about time, too. If the people running Water Tower Place hadn’t acted when they did, there’s no telling what those rotten teenagers would have gotten up to. It would have undoubtedly ended in chaos and tragedy.
Fortunately, those rotten teenagers won’t get the chance, as anyone age 17 or younger is not allowed inside the Water Tower Place shopping mall unless they are accompanied by someone age 21 or older. The rule is in effect on Fridays and Saturdays after 4 p.m., which are the times society is most vulnerable to adolescent depravity.
Of course, this was already the way things were at the mall here in Joliet. Unaccompanied youth were banned from the Louis Joliet Mall on Friday and Saturday evenings well over a year ago.
[Photo provided and Shaw Media file photo]
The mall here may be ahead of the curve in outlawing unsupervised teenagers, but this foresight may have come at a pretty steep price. Banning unaccompanied teens and their associated shenanigans must result in less people frequenting the mall in general. And with the place down a quarter of its four anchor stores with the closing of Carson’s, and the Sears supposed to shut down as well before this week is out, the mall's health is cause for concern.
But nothing’s free, and if the price of safety is a few less customers, so be it. It’s not like those kids were going to buy anything at Sears anyway.
While the operators of the Louis Joliet Mall should be commended for their sacrifice and prescience, it doesn’t mean they can’t do even more. After all, sometimes it's not adults who need to be protected from the youth of today. Sometimes it's the other way around. Like at the Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios in Florida, where a 9-year-old may or may not have been nearly kidnapped by some guy from Minooka.
The Minooka man, 23-year-old Jason Mikel, touched the 9-year-old on her shoulders while they were in a locker area of the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, then told her to go outside to her mother, according to an arrest affidavit.
The mother, incidentally, had reportedly lost sight of her daughter and did not know where she was when Mikel was supposedly touching her shoulders and talking to her.
This doesn’t really sound like an attempted kidnapping. Or at least not one where the attempted kidnapper was trying very hard. A Florida judge apparently didn’t think so either. Television station WFTV reported the judge ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to hold Mikel without bond on an attempted kidnapping charge. Mikel did get charged with battery and marijuana possession, but that’s nothing compared to being accused of trying to abduct a young girl.
But what if that was the case? In this instance, the 9-year-old girl is clearly younger than 17 and Mikel, at 23, is older than that. Yet it’s possible he was the one somebody to keep an eye on to make sure he wasn’t causing any trouble.
That said, we can’t keep everybody, regardless of age, out of the Universal Studios Harry Potter ride if they don’t have a chaperone. They start doing that and the Harry Potter ride will surely go the way of Sears and Carson’s. And no one wants that. Which is why it was such a favorable turn when the Joliet City Council went ahead and lifted its longtime ban on electric fences.
It might not be of any use to Universal Studios and its Harry Potter ride, since it is in Florida, but the Louis Joliet Mall is in Joliet and its operators can ask for an electric fence to keep us safe from the teenagers.
With an electric fence in place around the mall, you can let in all the teens you want. They could roam free and without supervision, and shop at the remaining anchor stores, keeping them in business and bolstering the local economy.
Within a year or so, you can bet Water Tower Place will follow suit with an electric fences of its own. It just takes them a little longer up there.
• Joseph Hosey is the editor of The Herald-News. You can reach him at 815-280-4094, at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JoeHosey.