Should I Let My Teenager Go on Spring Break Unsupervised?

Teens on Spring Break
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Although spring break has traditionally been a college ritual, these weeklong rites of passage have infiltrated high schools over the past few years. Many teens are banding together – sometimes with older college students – to go on vacation without any adult supervision. While some parents are quick to say no, others are willing to allow their kids the opportunity to experience the freedom of an adult-free vacation.

The Dangers of Spring Break

During the 1990s, MTV devoted several weeks each year to showing college students partying on spring break. Scantily clad young adults were depicted consuming large quantities of alcohol while competing in various contests. The programs caused the spring break tourism industry to skyrocket in places like Daytona Beach.

Spring break popularity has remained long after MTV’s TV shows about the wild parties have ended. Despite the depiction of spring break being a fun-filled rite of passage, the truth is, a lot of dangerous things can happen on spring break.

A survey conducted by the American Medical Association in 2006 found that college age women were likely to engage in a variety of risky behaviors. A whopping 90% of respondents said alcohol was easy to obtain and 83% said heavy drinking was part of the fun. One in five said they had sexual experiences they later regretted.

Hangovers and regret aren’t the only dangers young people face while on spring break. Each year, many young people die from alcohol poisoning or drug overdoses while partying. There are also many reports of serious injuries and fatal accidents.

Being involved in or charged with crime is another risk many party goers face.

Underage drinking alone leads to thousands of arrests in many cities. Others face more serious charges, such as drug possession or assault after partying has gone awry.

Sometimes teens are tempted to take their partying to foreign countries where the drinking age is lower and there is easier access to alcohol. Sadly, crossing the border into unfamiliar territories has led to many spring break tragedies including kidnappings and disappearances.

Financial scams are yet another danger many young people fall prey to on spring break. Sometimes scams occur before the trip has even started. Scammers often take payments upfront without delivering anything in return.

Teens Aren’t Ready to Handle Spring Break

If your teen wants to go on an unsupervised spring break trip, consider the serious dangers. Despite your teen’s protests of, “I promise not to drink,” or “There’s nothing wrong with going to the beach for a few days!” the truth is, teens are impressionable. Spending time with young adults who are drinking and engaging in risky behavior isn’t likely to bode well for teens.

Whether your teen claims, “Everyone else is going,” or “You never let me do anything fun!” hold firm and say no. An unsupervised spring break trip could lead to serious -  or even lethal - consequences.

Safer Alternatives to Spring Break

Just because you won’t allow your teen to go on an unsupervised trip doesn’t mean there can’t be any fun over vacation. Look for safer alternatives that can allow your teen to enjoy the break from school in a safe manner.

  • Consider a family vacation. Plan a family vacation and show your teen that there are plenty of safe ways to have fun. If you can’t go away for an extended trip, look for local adventures. A day hike in a park or exploring an unusual landmark could satisfy your teen’s need for excitement.
  • Allow your teen to invite friends over to your home. Be willing to let your teen host a party. Providing a safe place for teens to gather can be a great way to keep them out of trouble.
  • Encourage your teen to volunteer. Although there are many different ways for teens to volunteer, there are organizations devoted to arranging community service projects for teens during their spring breaks. These trips usually involve travelling to destinations in need. But unlike traditional spring break, there are chaperones and plenty of healthy activities that will keep your teen out of trouble. 

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