Research shows unsupervised youth (whether home or on vacation) are 3 times more likely to engage in risky behaviors. The good news is that when parents/guardians engage in open, honest conversations with their teens and set clear expectations, teens are 50% less likely to use alcohol or drugs. These conversations are especially challenging during school breaks when we all want to enjoy a vacation from our daily routines, but the payoffs for reinforcing family values/expectations during these times are great. By minimizing teens’ exposure to higher rates of binge drinking, you also reduce the risk of violence, sexual promiscuity and assault.
As Highland Park High School Principal Dr. Koulentes wrote in a letter to parents
“The stage gets set on weekends or during breaks, when our students attend parties in homes where parents are absent or offer little or no supervision of the teens who have gathered. At these parties, alcohol and other drugs are used and students become severely inebriated, sometimes to the point of unconsciousness. In these all too frequent occasions, intoxicated teens navigate an unsupervised environment where the opportunities for sexual assaults and date rapes to occur increase. In what only takes moments, lives are forever altered.”
3 Tips to Reinforce a Safe Spring Break for Parents and Teens:
1. Reconnect with your teen and remind them that what happens on vacation does not stay on vacation — rather risky actions can have permanent consequences once back home, including jeopardizing college admissions, scholarships, and even future employment.
2. Social media can tell a lot about teens’ travel itineraries, who they are with, and what their locations are so it’s especially important to review privacy settings (geotagging, location services and “check in” features) to ensure safety.
3. Talk to them about thinking twice before posting photos in real time — the grandma rule is always in effect: “Don’t post anything you don’t want your grandma, a coach, etc. to see!”