Jun 14, 2023 - News

No-teenager zones increase in Philly

Illustration of a school bus with a grimacing emoji instead of a stop sign.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Philly teens face limited options where they can hang out — with more restrictions than ever at businesses and a city curfew.

Why it matters: The final bell of the school year for the district’s 113,000 students was Tuesday.

State of play: Several businesses in Center City already have rules for young people.

Meanwhile: Some businesses restrict backpacks and large shopping groups in their stores.

Context: Large teen gatherings at businesses and public spaces have led to safety issues.

  • This included over Memorial Day weekend, when police broke up a crowd of hundreds at Penn’s Landing over reports of fights, gunfire and vandalized cars.
  • Plus: Teens are increasingly using social media to quickly organize those sorts of informal gatherings which can turn chaotic.

Zoom in: All under 18s have a curfew of 10pm in Philly, while those 13 and younger must be off the streets by 9:30pm — unless they are accompanied by a guardian.

Between the lines: Young people are increasingly the victims of gun violence in the city, which typically increases during summer months.

By the numbers: Minors accounted for about 11% of the 804 shooting victims this year through Monday, a Philadelphia police spokesperson tells Axios.

  • 17 children have been killed by gun violence during that time.

What they’re saying: Kendra Van de Water, executive director of the youth nonprofit YEAH Philly, says the city has not invested in enough spaces and affordable options for teens, leaving them bored or forcing them to stay home.

  • She believed the informal gatherings of large numbers of teens recently was a “cry for help that they need more things to do.”

💡 1 idea: Create a city park for dirtbikes and ATVs for young people, Van de Water said. (It’s an idea that’s long been debated in the city.)

  • “That may cost money upfront, but a lot of young people would participate in a place like that,” she said. “They’re already doing it on the streets.”

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