Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Break Safety 2.0

Today's version of Spring Break is a far cry from innocent scenes of beach volleyball and sand castles. More teens than ever are putting themselves at risk during Spring Break. According to travel industry experts, an estimated one in seven (15%) young people on Spring Break party destinations are high school students. Even teens who stay at home can be at risk. Unsupervised time, money to spend, and peer pressure to "have fun" can be a recipe for risky behaviors, including drug use.

If your teen is going a trip - or even if your teen is staying home for Spring Break - you need to take action. Here are three things you can do to help keep your teen safe:

SET RULES, especially no alcohol or drugs

  • Be clear and specific about your expectations and establish consequences for breaking the rules. Spring Break should not mean a break from responsibility.
  • Talk candidly about the risks of drug use and drinking, including alcohol poisoning, violence, STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and sexual assault. Include a conversation about date rape drugs like Rohypnol and GHB. While usually coupled with alcoholic beverages, they can also be slipped into non-alcoholic drinks.

PREPARE your teen

  • Give teens tips on how to protect themselves, such as using a buddy system (3 or more is best) to watch out for each other, and make them aware of the laws that apply in various areas of travel.
  • Walk through different scenarios and discuss how to handle pressures, including offers of drugs or alcohol and other risky situations.

KEEP MONITORING and ask questions

  • Know your teen's itinerary and where he/she is staying.
  • If they are staying home, know how they are spending their unsupervised time.
  • Ask questions. Require a daily check-in via cell phone and make sure your teen is reachable. Make sure to have cell phone numbers for your teen's friends and check in with them as necessary too.
  • Network with and connect with other parents to confirm plans and coordinate ground rules.

Click here to read a blog post from Coalition member, Captain Eric Chin, of the Purdue Police Department on spring break safety.

For more student travel safety tips, check out the Student & Youth Travel Association of North America Web site and download their "Travel Tips" brochure.

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