Spring Break Is Potentially Life Threatening

Parents Concerned About Drinking, Unprotected Sex

Beer on the beach
Spring Break Can Be Dangerous. © Getty Images

Spring break is no longer an innocent respite from the rigors and stress of college academics, it's potentially life threatening, according to the American Medical Association, which published a survey in 2004 that shows 91 percent of parents say it's time to stop spring break marketing and promotional practices that promote dangerous drinking.

"The tourism and alcohol industries promote heavy drinking and sex, creating an environment that can lead to rape, fatal injuries and death by alcohol poisoning.

We agree with parents that we must put an end to these promotions that target students, most of whom are underage." said J. Edward Hill, MD, AMA chair-elect in a news release.

The "Matter of Degree" poll indicated that a majority of parents (56 percent) were completely unaware that tour companies market spring break destinations directly to college students, emphasizing heavy drinking and sex.

In addition to U.S. spring break destinations, American tour companies, in partnership with alcohol producers, promote destinations outside the country where the drinking age is 18 - a key attraction for under-21 college students.

Of the 500 parents surveyed, 91 percent say it's time to stop spring break marketing and promotional practices that promote dangerous drinking.

Survey Reveal Spring Break Concerns

Other findings of the poll include:

  • More than 80 percent of parents said they were concerned about college students drinking alcohol during spring break. Topping the list of concerns were students having unprotected sex (71 percent), students driving while intoxicated or with a drunken driver (70 percent), and female students getting raped (68 percent).
  • Eighty-eight percent of parents said they think that spring break is primarily a problem of underage drinking, because many college students are younger than the legal drinking age of 21, and 61 percent believe that underage students are more likely to drink than 21-year-olds.
  • 77 percent of adults and 68 percent of parents say that alcohol companies are using spring break in Mexico to introduce underage students to their products.
  • The beer and liquor industries say that they are not promoting underage drinking by encouraging alcohol use at spring break locations in Mexico, but 64 percent of parents agree that this practice takes advantage of American youth under 21 and influences them to drink.
  • 70 percent of parents say they are unwilling to pay for their child's spring break.

A Dark Side to Spring Break

"Parents and students need to recognize that there is a dark side to the spring break madness they see on MTV," said Frank Guglielmi, whose 19-year-old son died after falling off a balcony following a day of partying in Panama City Beach, FL.

And now, students who are headed to Mexican locations for Spring Break have additional dangers facing them as the raging drug cartel wars have significantly increased violence, murder and kidnapping throughout the country.

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