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Are you allowing your teen to go off on spring break unsupervised? Once a college ritual, this annual event has now become a rite of passage for some high school kids. TV and videos bombard us with images of un-chaperoned teens and young college students on spring break excursions. Many kids think this is normal and a cool thing to do. Some parents even dish out the money for their teen to go on all-expense paid spring break tours assuming that they will be chaperoned. Tour companies are not for that purpose. All they do is take the money and make vacation arrangements.
So what are some things parents need to think about?
Last year, tens of thousands of teens flocked to Florida alone on spring break.
The drinking age in Florida is 21 yrs. of age and if an underage drinker is caught, they will be charged with a misdemeanor and must appear in court, which could take up to 30 days. If under 18, the youth will be held until a parent comes for them.
Last year, the Business and Professional Regulation, Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco division confiscated 20,000 fake IDs in Panama City and Daytona alone.
Last year in the 4 week spring break period, there were 2,000 arrests in Panama City and Daytona to individuals age 15-21.
During spring break, the average male reported drinking 18 drinks per day and the average female reported 10 drinks per day. About half drank until they got sick or passed out at least once. (Journal of American College Health)
Alcohol is a fatal attraction for teens. It is implicated in the three major causes of death of children and teens in this country. (National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism)
Teens may be very responsible and quite levelheaded but they still can be placed in a risky situation for which they may be unprepared. When teens are faced with peer pressure it is sometimes difficult to make the best decisions. When there is alcohol and drug use there always is the increased danger of violence, sexual activity and physical accidents.
Teens are not mature enough to handle some adult decisions. For that reason there are laws and guidelines for many activities and they may vary from state to state. Kids grow up having no fear and thinking nothing can happen to them. In the teen years they take serious risks that may affect them for the rest of their life.
Whenever you mix alcohol or drugs, teenagers or young adults, and the absence of parents, you often get the sum of a consequence that was not intended by the young person. Maybe it’s just an embarrassing moment or two. Maybe it’s the transmission of a sexually transmitted disease. Worse still, it could be rape.
Spring break sites are notorious havens for underage consumption of alcoholic beverages and other drugs. Sexual predators have roamed these havens for years, searching out unsuspecting victims. These predators are incorporating a weapon today more then ever- drugs, specifically “date rape” drugs. With one drink the victim often suffers from decreased inhibition, sleepiness, and memory loss; a combination of symptoms that not only increase the likelihood of sexual contact, but also decrease the chances for prosecution of a crime.
Spring Break sites are often the point of origin for STDs for many young people. Many of the diseases are curable and some are not. HIV, genital warts and herpes are prominent STDs that, while treatable, are incurable. But often the psychological effect of the sexual experience can be traumatic for years. It is likely that the emotional trauma of being victimized at this age will be carried for a lifetime.
It seems that our baby boomer generation is having a hard time saying “no” to their kids. It is a difficult decision as parents when we have to make a decision where we will lose favor with our children. REMEMBER: You are responsible for your child until they are age 18. You do have the right to say no to your teen if you feel uncomfortable about any activity they want to do.
If you as a parent allow your teen to go un-chaperoned away for spring break here are some topics to discuss with your teen:
what are your values, rules and expectations of them
what are the state laws where they will be going
do they have a spending plan for emergencies, living expenses and entertainment
exact specifics of their location and contact information
will there be check-in points of communication (daily time for a phone call to check in)
who can they call in an emergency
prepare your teen to respond in difficult situations – and even practice.
Is there an adult you know that will be nearby that can do periodic checkups and be “on call” in case the teen needs them.
Excerpts from “Teens and Spring Break”, written by Sheriff Kim Cronk - Henry County Sheriff Dept, Pam Mihankhah – NCFLE, Purdue Extension Human Development Educator, and Doug Mathias-Henry County Health Dept.
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