For some of you, especially in the North East, Spring Break can’t come fast enough. You’ve been blanketed with snow it seems like since the beginning of the year, and the thought of the warm sun on your face is driving you through the work weeks.
As you know, Spring Break is one of those cultural events that happens each year. From the middle of March through the beginning of April, High Schools and Universities shut down for students to take a breather from studying in the winter. Because I work with this demographic, I think it’s important for parents to realize what is actually going on, and how to talk to your students about it. Spring Break can be an essential time of rest for students, or it can be a tragic memory that may follow them through the rest of life.
The elephant in the room is the question, “So what are you planning for Spring Break?” Laced with a subtle, Are you going to make good decisions, the question gives parents an on-ramp for deeper conversations if students want to engage. Don’t be a fool here.
To the Parents: Hundreds of Thousands of college students are sitting around talking about the EPIC parties they’re going to have on the beach during spring break. Nothing wrong with parties, but I would take some time to inform your students about what’s going on in the culture today. Many students are blissfully unaware of ground zero on Spring Break, and that’s probably good. But having a well-informed quiver of knowledge may help while they’re enjoying their time in the sun.
1. Today’s drug culture is dangerous. – Gone are the days when you can simply say, “Well, he’s just smoking weed.” As if that’s all ok. The other night, CNN did a special report on the new ecstasy drug called MOLLY. Mollie is a highly toxic chemical combined with the same chemistry as ecstasy, and can be much more powerful. Be sure to do a little online research and talk about the ways your students may be introduced to drugs they either intentionally invest or un-intentionally find themselves in a place where they’ve taken something against their will. Here’s an article called 9 Things everyone should know about the drug Molly. It’s interesting, even if your students are staying at home with you for spring break this year.
2. Sexually Transmitted Disease – I’ve been hesitant to write this article for a long time, because I don’t want to come off like someone who’s against Spring Break. But if you’re going to finance your student to go to Florida, Mexico, or some of the other Spring Break Hot Spots, it’s important that you parent well. They may not choose to listen to you, but you can’t sit back and act like the world will parent your kids like you want it to.
According to a report from the University of Wisconsin on Spring Break:
- 26% of males and nearly 36% of females failed to use a condom during sex with someone they met on spring break
- Nearly 50% of the males and 41% of the females reported having consumed alcohol just prior to sex
- When asked about their alcohol use in connection with their sexual activities, 49% of men and 38% of women reported having sex as a direct result of drinking
- 75% of all students reported never or rarely using a condom on spring break
- Students reported their decision were negatively influenced by alcohol or drug use just prior to sexual activity
- 74% of males and nearly 88% of females reported never or rarely worrying about STDs/HIV, even though they were at risk
- About 48% of men and women who had sex under the influence regretted the experience.
There’s no report out there that says, If you go to Cancun, you’re 80% more likely to get syphilis, But take heed. It’s a stark warning to what’s going on during spring break that can follow your student for life. STD isn’t something that just effects your student. It may affect their future mate, their children, and potential cause life threatening damage to their physical bodies. Take a second to talk to your kids about sexuality on spring break. It’s important they know what they’re getting into.
3. Spring Break – ONLINE. – Too many students are going to go party at their spring break destination, and then post it online as a badge of honor. Instagram will be flooded with girls wearing less than they want, guys doing stupid things they’ll regret, and all the while, they will be building a resume online for future employers.
I understand, if you’re getting a job in hospitality at one of these spring break venues, your online profile may be positively affected by your posting. But if your kids ever want to run for office, be a celebrity, or get into any public life – This will come to haunt them.
Have you seen how companies incorporate online activity into their hiring practices? Every H/R department I know of is checking Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for potential employees accounts. You may think you can erase that stuff, but be warned…once something is online, it’s there forever. I would encourage your students to be very careful what they post online, and make sure it is congruent with what they may want to be seen like in 5-10 years.
That’s the bad stuff.
The good stuff is, your students have the chance of a lifetime to go out and blow off steam, meet new people, and create adventure. What a thrill to have a chance to go on spring break, and spend some time with friends developing deeper relationships and stories that will last a lifetime. Just be in the know!
I’ll be heading to the Holy Land next week, and will be reporting on our KIVU Spring Break. So stay tuned…there’s lots of cool stuff coming.