No More Mall: Where Teens Hang Out to Feel Safe

First Person, Various Authors

Editor’s Note: Malls used to be the most popular hangout spot for teens, but times have changed and socializing at the mall is no longer a thing. Richmond Pulse asked locals teens to tell us where they hang out now (if they have the time) and where they feel safe.

“Teenagers nowadays hang out either at the movie theater, an event at school, each other’s’ houses or amusement parks. They’ve replaced the mall because Hilltop is about to get redone and it barely has anything. Bay Street is too far for some people. In this society, the only place for teenagers to be safe and have fun together is somebody’s house because other places have so much drama and unnecessary fights. You will have no problems at your own house and you can have all the fun you want.” – Jade Patanapanich, 16

“I just hang out at home, a friend’s house, Six Flags, the movies or a park. Video games have replaced the mall. Sometimes I don’t go out as much, so I just play video games online with friends and talk and have fun. But it all depends on the person. Some kids like to go to the park and play basketball or stay at home and watch Netflix. You can go to the mall, but there isn’t much to do there.” -Ivan Alvarez, 16

“I don’t go out much because I don’t have enough money or we can never get a specific date where everyone is free. But when I do, I like to go to the mall and eat somewhere or go to the movies. I think movie theaters have replaced the mall because its fun to go watch a movie with friends and then go out to eat somewhere and talk about the movie. At the mall and theaters, teens are surrounded by people and if they are in trouble they are bound to get someone’s attention and help.” – Edith Gonzalez, 16

“Now that I’m a junior, I worry more about grades than actually socializing and hanging out with friends. Because of all my school work, I usually stay after school to finish assignments and then just go home. If I have free time, then I’ll stay home and spend time with my family or I’ll just catch up on sleep or on any shows that I’m watching at the moment. I think that the mall was more fun when we were kids because we had nothing to worry about. Now, most of us have jobs, we want to go to a good UC or CSU, so we spend time working really hard for school. Some of us play sports or are in a club. One place that I see so many teens hanging out at is T4. Boba has become really popular, and its super bomb. Once T4 opened, people started going there all the time.” – Dariana Ortiz, 16

“I don’t think anything has replaced the mall because it was a place where there were a variety of things to do in one spot, from going shopping for clothes to eating at restaurants, all while having time to walk and talk. It’s hard to hang out somewhere where we all feel safe. There aren’t many places to hang out, at least not that I know of. My friends and I have been trying to find a place to hang out near our school, but so far we haven’t found anywhere to go.” – Yanely Torres, 17

“I don’t really go out anymore. I realized being a teenager isn’t like on TV or in movies. I have a lot of responsibilities and no room to make mistakes. All I really do is go grocery shopping or go to Starbucks because they have Wi-Fi. Technology has replaced the mall. You can shop online for anything you need. I don’t think any place is really safe. People thought school was safe but look at all the school shootings. It’s moved to Wal-Marts and even churches. There are times I go out and think, ‘Is this gonna be my last day?’ Nowhere is safe.” – Jasmine Vazquez, 18

“As a senior, I tend to be very busy, but I like to hang out at school. I like it there because I am in the school robotics team and it has helped me grow as a person, to always be prepared and strategically tackle a situation in life. The mall used to be a nice place to go because there were always people that I knew there. Now, the mall is really vacant and it feels weird not seeing a lot of people out there. Even the stores are scarce. As I grow, I think about being safe more than I used to. That means I hang out with people who are my family or don’t look for trouble. The safest place that I can think of is at a house or somewhere that is normally positive, like a restaurant without a bar. Personally I love my family. I mainly hang out with my cousins because they are very supportive.” – Raul Manzo, 17

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