How to Keep Your Chicagoland Teen Safe This Summer

Recent “teen takeovers” in the city and suburbs have some parents concerned about their teens’ safety. Here are some tips for having a safe summer with your teen.

After spending the dark and cold winter months hibernating — and eventually going stir crazy — it’s no secret that Chicagoans go wild for the warm summer months. With so much going on around the city and suburbs during the summer, it’s easy to find yourself out and about enjoying the weather on any sunny day. 

However, summer plans made by some Chicagoland teens have reportedly taken quite a turn.

Teen takeovers across Chicagoland

In April, a large group of teens organized a “teen takeover” of Millenium Park on social media. Hundreds of teens flocked to the downtown park. The gathering turned violent when a mob of young people badly beat and robbed a couple who were visiting downtown. 

A similar flash mob also occurred at 31st Street Beach the night before the Millenium Park gathering. Multiple teens were injured on both occasions. 

In the south suburbs, the final day of a carnival in Tinley Park was shut down after more than 400 teens ran through the event instigating fights that resulted in injuries to some of the teens and carnival goers. The teens planned the flash mob via social media. 

Following the Tinley Park takeover, Ridge Fest, a popular community festival in suburban Chicago Ridge, and a church carnival in Evergreen Park were canceled due to safety concerns. 

Parents for Chicago text alerts

The rise in teen flash mobs or “teen takeovers” prompted a Chicago nonprofit to launch “Parents for Chicago,” a text and email alert system that notifies parents when a large gathering of teens is forming. 

Tracking your child’s location via their cell phone only helps parents locate their child, and alert systems like Chicago’s provide updates to parents that may or may not be relevant to their teen. 

So, what’s a concerned parent to do? You may know from your own teenage years that telling adolescents what to do or not to do usually doesn’t go over too well, and can even result in an adverse outcome.

Ways for teens to enjoy summer fun

Instead of cracking down on your kids this summer, encourage them to make positive decisions and guide them towards teen-friendly events, activities and other programs. 

We rounded up some age-appropriate ways for teens to stay social and have fun all summer without falling into trouble. From family outings they won’t grow bored of to events that are designed just for teens, here’s to creating safe summer memories! 

Attend a teen event

Many teens want to get out and hang out with their friends, no parent supervision required — and there’s nothing wrong with that! Instead of leaving them to their own devices, take your child and their friends to one of these events that are appropriate and engaging for young adults.

From film screenings and creative crafting events to local arts fests and movies in the park, there are plenty of activities that teens and their friends can enjoy in their communities.

Many Chicagoland organizations and museums, including the Museum of Science and Industry, the Morton Arboretum and even the Lincoln Park Zoo, offer free or low-cost programming designed just for teens. 

Plan a family outing that’s teen-approved

You may not be able to do anything about your teen acting humiliated to be seen out with you in public, but they might be willing to go out with the fam to one of these trending attractions. Even older kids will have to admit these outings are pretty cool! 

Whether your teen is an athlete, a gamer, a creative or a lover of all things #Selfie, there are plenty of cool attractions in Chicagoland that families can enjoy with their older kids. 

Host a themed family bonding night

Bonding with teens can be difficult (that’s putting it lightly!) but these at-home activities make family bonding a breeze! 

Many teens love adhering to a fun theme, which is why hosting a themed dinner party, a family movie night or a board game night all made our list of at-home family activities for tweens and teens. Check out our roundup to get all the details on how to host a family night that even your older kids will enjoy. 

Start a teen book club

We have some great tips on organizing a book club for kids. Using these tips, help your teen organize a book club with their friends. Not only will the book club meetups be a fun way for them to socialize over summer break, but the time they spend reading the book will ensure they’re staying out of trouble. 

Encourage them to work

Even if your teen isn’t old enough to apply for a “real” job, there are plenty of ways for kids to make money this summer. While saving for tech, toys and outings with friends, they’ll learn the importance of hard work, responsibility and money management. 

From car washes to lawn care and more, your teen will appreciate having their own pocket money and still have time to be a kid this summer, all while having a productive side hustle that keeps them from getting into any trouble. 

Chicago teens can access employment resources through the city’s One Summer Chicago teen employment program.

Join a mentorship program

If you want to take the extra step to ensure your teen stays out of harm’s way, consider signing them up for a reoccurring class or mentorship program. Having a positive, mature role model can help them realize there are benefits to staying out of trouble, and they’ll meet plenty of new friends and participate in fun activities along the way. 

Visit the Illinois Department of Human Services website to find a youth mentoring organization near you.

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Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts is the assistant editor on the Chicago Parent team. She is always on the lookout for the coolest and trendiest new attractions, restaurants and events for Chicagoland families. Her newsletters, online family guides and exciting digital content keep families informed on all the latest happenings around town.


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