If you have teens or college-age young adults, you’ve probably had (or soon will have) ongoing conversations about how they’ll spend their break.

As kids try to get permission (and money!) for the trip, you’ll hear phrases like: 

“I’m almost an adult. This is a rite of passage.” Or, “It’s what college students do. We go to the beach and hang out.”

The pressure is on for sure. But before you give in…

Here’s what research shows about spring break safety issues:

  • The average male reported drinking 18 drinks per day, compared to 10 drinks for the average female.
  • Of 783 young people surveyed, more than 50 percent of men and 40 percent of women said they drank until they became sick or passed out at least once.
  • The U.S. State Department’s “Spring Break in Cancun” says that alcohol is involved in most arrests, accidents, violent crimes and deaths suffered by American tourists there.

This is a major issue on some Florida beaches, so places like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach police departments have taken precautionary measures to avoid problems. These cities have already posted open letters on Facebook to spring breakers.

“We have said it before, but just so we are clear… if your top priorities when visiting the beach are being drunk and disorderly; breaking what you consider to be small rules like underage drinking, littering and leaving glass on the beach, urinating in public, using drugs, or engaging in violent or indecent behavior, Gulf Shores is definitely not the place for you.”

Risk-taking peaks during adolescence.

Instead of weighing risks based on logic and wisdom, teens are usually more concerned about how their choices will impact their peer relationships. They see being unaccepted relationally as a threat.

While a teen might usually make good choices, science shows that adding friends to the mix changes things. It makes them more likely to take risks for the reward of acceptance instead of considering the cost. The presence of other spring breakers can make it seem like the rewards of risk outweigh any consequences.

If your goal is for your spring breaker to be safe, consider these things:

  • Even if they don’t like the idea, you may decide to go along if you feel they aren’t ready to fly solo. You don’t have to constantly hover, but checking in regularly with an adult can decrease the potential for poor decision-making.
  • Help unsupervised teens and young adults prepare well. Discuss their plans and where they are staying. Establish clear expectations about everything from social media and location check-in to communicating with you by phone at designated times.
  • Address the dangers of underage drinking, meeting up with strangers and the potential consequences (legal and otherwise) for poor choices. They also need to know how to protect themselves from sexual assault, date rape, drugs and the like.

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Ultimately, the goal is to keep people safe over spring break. We all know that one irresponsible decision or crazy social post can change someone’s life. (Check out How to Talk to Your Teen About Drinking.)

Most of us would probably agree: It’s better to leave no stone unturned than to wish we had said something. Don’t be afraid to be “that parent.” You know, the one who encourages new experiences, knowing that a strong foundation can help them make the most of their opportunities.

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