A group of students crowds the door to a Brighton convenience store in frustration, urgently waiting for the owner to let them in. Kenshey Johnson, 16, from Boston Community Leadership Academy, says he tried to enter but there were other teens already there.
“I felt confused when he kicked me out, when all I just wanted to do was buy some chips and a juice,” says Johnson about the incident last year. “I was also mad because I really wanted to eat some snacks and I was forced to wait outside until the kids were done.”
As another school year starts, many teens again don’t feel trusted, in part due to unwritten rules -- and sometimes written signs -- that only allow a certain number of them in a business at one time. Just because some young people shoplift doesn’t mean all of them should be branded as troublemakers, teens say.
“It’s stereotypical and judgmental because before you go into a store they already have an assumption of how you are and it’s not right,” says 16-year-old Markiyah Bullard, from BCLA.
Bullard suggests that storeowners use cameras instead of their own critical eyes to capture the offenders.
Clerk Bao Tran, at the Fields Corner Store, in Dorchester, says he uses cameras but they can only do so much to protect a shop’s livelihood.
“When I feel like there are too many kids in the store and they’re too loud I ask them nicely to leave,” he says. “A lot of kids steal. I would catch them and they would be embarrassed and not come back.”
MD. Mainul Islam, a clerk at the Fields Corner Supermarket, says he has had to call police several times a month to report stealing by large groups of youth.
“I don’t want troublemakers in my store,” says Islam. “The parents and the community should take care of the children and teach them better, to not steal and make good decisions.”