Stop Yelling At The Teens, Just STOP

Teens are just doing their jobs. Whether it is making sub sandwiches, scooping ice cream or serving coffee, it’s a summer job to earn funds for their education. And yet, with local rules around mask wearing our teens are being verbally and even physically assaulted by those who do not want to follow store policies or local or state ordinances.

angry woman in car
Stop yelling a the teens-JUST STOP (@zelmabrezinska via Twenty20)

All over the US parents are telling stories of teens who have been called names, shouted at, and even had food thrown at them. These high school and college student are bearing the brunt of the public anger when NONE OF IT IS THEIR FAULT.

In Ohio one ice cream parlor took to Facebook to berate customers for shouting at her teenage employees. In Rhode Island, another ice cream store simply closed, they were so tired of mistreatment of their teens.

We again have had a nasty visit from a 'refuse to wear a mask' person. His partner wore a 1/2 mask below her nose. She…

Posted by Herrell's Ice Cream & Sweet Bakery on Saturday, July 4, 2020

Masks may be controversial but it’s not the kids’ fault-at all

Let’s be clear here, masks are controversial because of the political dysfunction of our nation. BUT our teens have nothing to do with it. They don’t make the policy in the stores that employ them and they certainly don’t make the local and state rules. They just enforce them and this is where the problem starts.

When a young worker tells an adult customer that masks are required in a store, the customer needs to respect that, or leave. Those are the only two options. Yelling, intimidating and throwing things at a young person is never okay and there should be repercussions for such actions.

Parents tell us that their teens are miserable. They come home in tears, hate their jobs and only remain in their positions because they need the money. Parents hearts are breaking that their teens and young adults have to endure this.

The kids are miserable because they are being treated badly

One parent told us her son works at a restaurant and

He came home many days upset at the way he was treated and/or spoken to by adults. There were days when the orders were coming faster than these teens could make them. The customers were rude and oftentimes yelling at the teens running the store. The worst was the day my son came home in near tears because a woman was yelling and swearing at them for not having her order ready in a more timely manner.

I’d never seen him that upset over a work issue. We had a long talk about people’s fears and often their ignorance. I reminded him that this was a high school job not his career. I asked him to continue to do his work as he’d always done and to ignore the haters. We push through. It’s what we do.

What can we, their parents, do?

As adults witnessing such behavior we can:

  • Step in and protect someone else’s kid from such an assault, shaming anyone who treats a teen who is just enforcing the law in this manner.
  • Suggest that our own teens talk to their managers about strategies for dealing with uncivil behavior. One manger at a retail outlet told us. “We just ask teens to politely remind the public of our policy, offer a mask if they need one, and call their managers if there is any push back. “
  • Offer these hard working young people, so many saving for their education, a larger tip in this very tough moment. A little extra that says, “I know this job is tough, and I hope I can help, just a bit.”

With national retailers like, Target, Walgreens and Home Depot requiring masks, we hope that they will become more commonplace and that the venting against teens, this uncivil and unacceptable behavior, will stop.

More to Read:

Kids will have to wear masks this year-here are some that are easy to wear Your Teen May Need Face Masks for School This Fall: Here Are Popular Options

About Lisa Endlich Heffernan

Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan is the co-founder of Grown and Flown, the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author.
She started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and is co-author of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

Read more posts by Lisa

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