Oaks Park adds a chaperone requirement to the rink

The move comes after what staff described as several unusually intense or lengthy verbal altercations between teenage skaters.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oaks Amusement Park has introduced a chaperone requirement for teens during certain hours on its roller rink, a move that staff say comes in response to an increase in the intensity of altercations between young skaters.

Under the New policy, which went into effect Aug. 19, all guests ages 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult ages 21 or older during Open Skate sessions from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. An accompanying person is required for six minors.

“It’s for a small part of our operations,” said Emily MacKay, director of marketing and events. “Friday and Saturday night only, only in the roller rink.”

The new policy is in response to an increase in unruly behavior by some teenage skaters in recent weeks, according to MacKay.

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That doesn’t include a series of fights on July 22 that resulted in the police being called and the park closed for the evening, she said – it was an isolated incident that happened. produced elsewhere in the park.

But there were also recurring incidents at the rink, she said, although none of them reached the level of the July fight. The occasional verbal altercations are nothing new, but recent episodes have been more intense.

“Somebody hit somebody, or somebody looked at somebody’s boyfriend, you know, whatever’s going on there,” she said. “It’s kind of the normal stuff, but we see this kind of stuff escalate faster, more quickly drag on, kind of you clog up on it all night and then it makes everyone uncomfortable and it’s no fun for anyone.”

The policy is limited to Friday and Saturday nights because they are the most densely populated, she said, and it only applies to the roller rink because it is known as a hangout for teenagers, so than the rest of the park tends to see more. complete families visiting together.

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“It’s always the hope that the kids will get the message of ‘hey, there are consequences here – if we don’t behave well, we can’t come without mom,'” she said. “It’s more fun hanging out there with just your friends, we understand that, but we’ll just have to watch and see how things go.”

There are likely multiple factors contributing to the increase in incidents, MacKay said, but since many verbal feuds have involved teenagers in a specific age range, she speculates that one of the causes could be school interruptions during the pandemic.

“The middle school years, where you start going to school dancing, you start doing all these things where there’s a social aspect to it — it just wasn’t happening,” she said. “And now they’re at an age where, historically, you’d be like ‘oh yeah, my kid’s 15, they can go it alone’ – maybe they missed some of those developmental milestones because they were home for a couple years. It seems reasonable to think that would help.

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