But unlike many other youth escort programs, Tupelo's mall is a little more lenient.
Here, youths 16 and under will have to be escorted by a parent or guardian 21 or older on Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Some malls keep the program in place every day of the week.
The purpose of the new program, said Mall at Barnes Crossing General Manager Jeff Snyder, is to encourage family shopping on the weekend.
"This isn't because of any particular incident or event, but rather a way to promote a more family-friendly shopping experience," he said.
On those Friday and Saturday evenings, the mall will show movies, have live entertainment and include other family-friendly events.
And to prevent large crowds of unescorted teens, the mall is implementing its "Family Night Youth Escort Program" to go along with the activities.
"We just want to curb the number of unescorted teens so families can come here and not have to wade through a bunch of them," Snyder said.
"But we're not trying to keep teens from coming here or going after them, because we know they make up a large percentage of retail shoppers."
Snyder also noted that many malls with similar escort policies begin implementing them earlier in the day.
"Here, we're just talking four hours out of the entire weekend, two hours each on Friday and Saturday," he said.
The escort policy will not extend to the Cinemark 8 movie theater or to mall stores with exterior entrances.
"In an ideal scenario, if you're under 16 without a parent or guardian, you could come to the mall earlier, say 5 or 6, shop and eat and then by the time 7 rolls around, you can head to the movie theater," Snyder said. "By the time the movie is over, the mall is closed or about to close anyway."
Mall security personnel will be stationed at the entrances to monitor who enters. Unescorted visitors under 16 will be asked to leave, but if they need to contact a parent or guardian to pick them up, they'll be able to go to a "reunion area" where they can be called.
Parents or guardians can escort up to three under-16 youths, as long as one of them is their child, and they must stay with them the entire time.
At other malls where similar escort policies have been used, sales have increased.
Retail consultant Howard Davidowitz told ABC News recently that clamping down on teens is good for business overall. While teen specialty shops do well, mall department stores generally attract older customers who spend more money than teens, he said.
"There has to be a balance," Davidowitz said. "The problem a developer has is if it becomes a hangout, it becomes scary for older customers. That's the department store customer, and that's the anchor of the center."
Snyder said information about the Family Night Youth Escort Program will be relayed to shoppers starting this weekend.
The policy also will be spelled out on the mall's website at barnescrossing.com.
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or email@example.com.
Family night youth escort program highlights
- The policy is in effect for The Mall at Barnes Crossing except for stores with exterior entrances.
- The policy does not apply to Cinemark Movies 8.
- Visitors under age 16 are required to be accompanied by a parent or guardian 21 or older at all times on Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- Unescorted youth will be asked to leave mall property after 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
- Those refusing to leave may be prosecuted for trespassing.
- Proof of age will be required if the age of the youth and/or parent or guardian is not easily determined. Those whose age cannot be determined or lack identification will be asked to leave.
- A parent or guardian over 21 may escort up to three youths, one of which must be the child of the parent or guardian, who must remain with the children the entire time they are shopping.