5 things parents need to know about spring break
Fact: More than 3.7 million students will travel during spring break. Whether they stay close to home or hit a foreign destination, there are many potential risks.
What can a parent do to prepare their teens for a safe spring break experience? Here are six talking points to consider.
Three out of five teens will have unprotected sex during spring break, many of them with multiple partners reports The Doctors.
Such dangerous behavior greatly increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and unintended health outcomes, such as compromised fertility later down the line.
In a 2011 survey by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, statistics for U.S. high school students indicated:
- 47.4 percent had engaged in sexual intercourse
- Nearly half of the 19 million new STDs each year are among young people aged 15–24 years
- More than 400,000 teen girls aged 15–19 years gave birth in 2009
Drugs and alcohol
Drinking ages vary by destination. Learn about the laws and penalties regarding alcohol consumption at your teen’s spring break destination – they be more severe than in the states.
Fast-paced drinking games can turn dangerous quickly. Binge drinking not only creates a nasty hangover, but increases the risk of drunk driving, alcohol poisoning and even death.
Alcohol can make date rape drugs more potent. A very small amount of these colorless and flavorless drugs slipped into a drink can compromise your teen’s judgment and behavior. Never leave a drink unattended and always watch it being poured.
Know this name: Molly is the street name for a new psychoactive substance MDMA that’s making a splash on college campuses and at suburban house parties.
Be aware that buying, using or having drugs in your possession in some countries can carry severe convictions, like imprisonment without bail and extended wait times for a trial. Also, in some countries, a minor can be charged as an adult for drug offenses.
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Most hotel room thefts occur on the first floors of a hotel, advises SafetyTips411.com. Choose a room on floors three through sevn and closest to the elevator.
If your hotel room has a safe, use it.
Be wise about Wi-Fi.
"Identity theft can happen at any time but can be more likely while traveling because you're carrying a lot of sensitive information in a distracting and unfamiliar environment," says Mary Brockhaus, Senior Vice President, BMO Harris Bank.
Find out if there are any crimes or scams common to a destination.
Drunken swimming and jumping off balconies are definite spring break don’ts. It may seem cool to show off in front of your friends, but crazy conduct can hurt students – sometimes even fatally.
In sunny locales, severe sun burn can be an issue and increased exposure can cause dehydration. To avoid sunburn, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 a half-hour before going outside and reapplying after every two hours of swimming or sweating.
Health and insurance
Be sure to check with your health insurance provider and see what kind of coverage your child has while traveling.
“Unexpected accidents, medical emergencies and travel disruptions do happen. Many families purchase travel insurance simply for a little peace of mind while traveling,” says Dan Drennen, director of sales and marketing for Travel Insurance Center. “They know they have an emergency assistance provider available to them 24/7 if something were to go wrong.”
Be aware of any health concerns in your destination spot. Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Traveler’s Health website.
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A few helpful tips…
For domestic or foreign travel, visit online travel forums such as Lonely Planet Thorn Tree to talk about a particular city or country.
If your teen is traveling to a foreign country for spring break, have them register with Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to a foreign country.
The U.S. State Department has a website written especially for students, Students Abroad.
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Photo: What parents need to know about spring break / Robert Churchill/Getty Images
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