Apr 27, 2023 - Things to Do

Richmond teens are being banned from their fun summer traditions

Illustration of a backpack with a "no" symbol keychain attached to it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

It looks like it’s going to be a long, boring summer for Richmond teens, who just got slapped with a restriction on their summer fun traditions — weeks before school even lets out.

Driving the news: Kings Dominion implemented a new chaperone policy last week for kids under the age of 16, who must now be accompanied by an adult to stay at the park past 4pm.

  • The park cited "increasing incidents of inappropriate and unruly behavior" for its decision.

Why it matters: The theme park isn't the only venue cracking down on unaccompanied minors.

Context: The new policy comes on the heels of Movieland's teen ban, which went into effect March 3 and prohibits anyone under 17 from being in the theater after 7:30pm, "no exceptions."

  • The ban was driven by "overwhelming" customer requests, WRIC reported.

What’s happening: "This group of teens has not gotten everything they needed for the last few years," Bob Nickles, program manager for ChildSavers, the Richmond-based nonprofit dedicated to kids' mental health, told Axios.

The pandemic disrupted critical stages in today's teenagers' development. Crucially, they missed the kinds of experiences, like slumber parties and field trips, that would have taught them "incremental distancing from their caregivers," Nickles said.

  • Basically, they went from having no independence to too much all at once.
  • "We're expecting 17-year-olds to behave like 17-year-olds, but in some ways, they're still 14," he added.

Yes, but: It's not just the pandemic that's affecting teens, Nickles said. These teens are coming of age in an increasingly polarized and politicized world, much of it aimed at kids and schools.

  • They're also modeling the adult behavior they see around them, which in some cases is exactly the kind of behavior resulting in teen bans.

Zoom out: Neither entertainment venue nor their parent companies elaborated on the decisions beyond statements, but these teen bans are not unique to Richmond.

"If we want to see change on some level, [adults] have to outweigh the negative," Nickles said. "We have to be positive role models."

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