After a string of controversial incidents, the owner-operator of a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Royersford, Penn., recently announced plans to require anyone coming into their store under the age of sixteen to be accompanied by an adult.

“We contemplated long and hard before posting this, but decided it was time,” reads the statement on Facebook. “Often on Saturdays and days when schools are off, we have school-age children visiting the restaurant without their parents. Usually, these children and teens are dropped off for several hours at a local bounce park and groups of them then walk over to our restaurant.”

The statement continues:

“While we love being a community restaurant and serving guests of all ages, some issues need to be addressed.”

Management then listed a litany of issues, including vandalism, rudeness to employees and guests, and the use of profanity.

“To those unaccompanied children and teens that have visited us and acted appropriately, we thank you. But we also apologize. Due to the numerous extreme behaviors of many of your peers, we must make a blanket rule covering anyone under the age of 16.”

Chick-fil-A management then goes on to stress, “Parents, we are not blaming you. Children and teens are learning to navigate the world free from supervision and often push the boundaries. We simply can’t let them push those boundaries anymore at our restaurant.”

The store operator encouraged parents to talk with their children about the alleged behavior.

We’ve all seen teens behaving badly, and there’s no question the proliferation of profane language has become a widespread epidemic. It seems more adults are behaving recklessly and irresponsibly, too. Kids are watching, and it’s likely some of the kids inside that Chick-fil-A restaurant are mirroring behavior they’ve seen at home or via the many social media outlets they utilize on a minute-to-minute basis.

To be sure, this particular Chick-fil-A is doing their best to manage an escalating problem. But the very fact they need to make this change in policy only illustrates just how much child and teen behavior has deteriorated over the years.

When a corporation is forced to encourage parents to speak with their children about basic manners and civil discourse, you know the train has jumped the tracks. Once upon a time, that was elementary and understood as a given.

Yet, there’s a very good chance many of these teens acting out don’t have both a mother and father to go home to for such a discussion. At best, many of them have just one – and they’re probably struggling to hold it all together.

Some critics of the decision have cried hypocrisy, suggesting that a Christian-owned company shouldn’t be turning back youth and missing out on the opportunity to invest in the next generation.

I suspect these individuals are unaware of the millions of dollars Chick-fil-A donates to communities and organizations all over America, including the funding of its own foundation which specifically helps children, as well as partnering with other organizations to help with education, homelessness and even hunger.

Some will dismiss this policy change as a one-off, a blip in the news. In reality, it’s a reflection of a broken culture. When Focus on the Family and other like-minded organizations advocate for and invest in helping parents raise the next generation, we’re doing that for a number of reasons, but few more practical and visible than helping cultivate a functioning society.

Young teenagers should be able to civilly and independently dine together at a Chick-fil-A restaurant. They should be responsible and polite. They should be trustworthy.

Of course, many are – but far too many no longer meet such measures.

At this point, it seems the very best thing Chick-fil-A in Royersford, Penn., can do to serve these unruly teens is to try and bring some accountability, counsel, and supervision into their lives. We would be wise to pray for both Chick-fil-A managers and the teens.


Photo from Shutterstock.