College students across the country are anxious awaiting spring break this month.
Many are planning trips to sunny beaches, where they’ll spend the week drinking and partying. Spring break pilgrimages have become a staple of college life.
Parents, meanwhile, hope their kids make it back to campus alive. Each year, we hear horror stories of teenagers who meet terrible misfortune and even death during spring break.
How should parents react? Should they tell their child – possibly a legal adult – that he or she can’t accompany friends on a seaside getaway?
It’s a tough call for parents. On one hand, your child (presumably) has been studying hard at college all semester and needs a break. On the other, a combination of alcohol, impaired judgment and dangerous locales can spell danger.
“This often is a difficult moment of letting go,” says CollegeParentCentral.com. “It is important that you talk to your student about your concerns. Let her know why you worry. Try to be calm, but make sure that she understands the realities of some of the potential dangers of some of the typical spring break student destinations – even if she insists that she will behave responsibly.”
Several governmental agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of State, put out information on travel safety.
“Make this year’s spring break memorable by having fun and helping yourself, your friends, and others stay safe and healthy,” urges the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Help your child plan a safe trip
The site offers several safety tips that parents can stress with their kids. For instance, limit drinking, be careful in the water, avoid dangerous sexual activity, and use good judgment in places you visit.
The state department website encourages students to register their destinations and contact information in its Safe Traveler Enrollment Program.
“Safety and security updates are automatically sent to the enrolled citizen so they can make informed trip-planning decisions,” it says. “Smart trip planning involves more than getting a new travel guide and backpack. We have resources for students and their parents to prepare for safe, enjoyable trips.”
The site stresses the potential dangers that face students spending spring break in another country.
“Every year, there are incidents of travelers being arrested, injured, sexually assaulted, and even killed,” the state department says. “For Spring Breakers, many incidents have been linked to alcohol and drug use.”
Earlier this month, the agency has issued a travel warning for Mexico, a popular spring break destination.
“The rising number of kidnappings and disappearances throughout Mexico is of particular concern,” it says. “We strongly advise you to lower your profile and avoid displaying any evidence of wealth that might draw attention.
“Carjacking and highway robbery are serious problems in many parts of the border region and U.S. citizens have been murdered in such incidents.”
If your child wants to take a spring break trip, urge him or her to stay in the United States. Generally, college students face fewer dangers in this country.
No matter where your child visits, insist that he or she communicate with you daily. A short email or text message can reassure a parent about a child’s safety.
A spring break trip, like any travel, carries some risk. But parents can minimize the dangers facing their child by proper planning and communication.
Spring break travel can be an enjoyable experience if a student demonstrates good judgment. If not, the trip could lead to serious injury or even death. Use resources like the Safe Traveler Enrollment Program and go over country-specific information with your kid before their trip.