There are fast-growing concerns at the Jersey Shore about large groups of out-of-control teenagers.
Officials in Ocean City say the kids are causing havoc, especially on the beach, and leaders say the problem is getting worse.
The large groups of teens that descend on Ocean City’s boardwalk and beach are impossible to miss, and some officials have said it has become "the hottest nightclub for teenagers at the Jersey Shore" so far this summer.
“It’s definitely made it hard for us to have a good time on the boardwalk at night with our family with two small children," said Colleen Kaufman.
Police have said the crowds of kids are bigger this year with more underage drinking, more pot smoking and more fighting compared to 2021.
“It's just become a whole other set of riff-raff that we've never seen before, said business owner and City Council member Jody Levchuk.
“We've had them congregating on the beach because they're on Tik Tok and they tell everybody 'Hey, let's go to Ocean City. I'll meet you on the beach,'" said Air Circus owner Doug Jewell.
More Jersey Shore Coverage
The issue came up at a city council meeting earlier in the month. While officials praise how police are trying to control the situation, they expressed concerns about the teen crowds causing damage to Ocean City’s brand of "America’s greatest family resort.”
“I would really just like to see the family atmosphere kind of stay intact as much as possible," said Kaufman.
Complaints about unruly teens intensified in many Jersey Shore communities after state laws legalizing recreational marijuana for adults significantly limited police enforcement power when dealing with underage drinking and pot possession. Although Ocean City has a 10 p.m. curfew for the beach, police have been keeping the teens on the sand instead of having them swarm the boardwalk.
Ocean City’s police chief told NBC New York that staffers and other officials plan to formulate new strategies this week.
Some claim teens are also congregating elsewhere in town and making lots of noise.
"It's really escalated into a situation where it's getting out of hand," said Barbara Betson, who lives at Second Street and Bay Avenue.
"I want to see the state go back to these reform laws and adjust them," Levchuk said.
Local officials say the police and lawmakers can’t be the only ones working to find solutions. They insist the parents of the teens are a key part of the equation.
"Wake up. Get ahold of your kids," said Betson.