(Washington, D.C.)—More teens than ever are putting
themselves at risk during Spring Break. According to
travel industry experts, an estimated one in seven
(15%) young people on Spring Break party destinations
are high school students. Even teens who stay at home
can be at risk. Unsupervised time, money to spend, and
peer pressure to "have fun" can be a recipe for risky
behaviors, including drug use.
report shows that more teens start using marijuana,
cigarettes, and alcohol for the first time between the
spring and summer months—prime time for teens on
Spring Break and time unsupervised by parents or
teachers. Further, teen girls are at an even greater
risk than boys when it comes to engaging in risky
Break is a very important time in the eyes of teens. A
new Omnibuzz survey by Teen Research Unlimited (TRU)
shows that many teens are planning to spend money on
Spring Break this year. In fact, 39 percent of youth
aged 16 to 18 said they would spend $100 or more.
people associate Spring Break with college age kids,
the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
(ONDCP) is urging parents of high school teens to know
the risks associated with this time of year, before
they agree to send their child on unsupervised
holidays. "We don't want parents to be naïve about
what happens when a group of high school kids goes
away for Spring Break," said ONDCP Director John P.
Walters. "Whether your child is going away or staying
home, parents need to know what to do to keep their
teens healthy and drug-free."
calling on parents to take action during this period,
whether their teen is staying home, or going away on
Spring Break trip. A checklist for parents offers
three tips on keeping teens safe during Spring Break:
SET RULES, especially no drinking or drugs
clear and specific about your expectations. Spring
Break should not mean a break from responsibility.
candidly about the risks of drug use and drinking,
including alcohol poisoning, violence, sexually
transmitted infections, and sexual assault.
PREPARE your teen
teens tips on how to protect themselves, such as
using a buddy system to watch out for each other.
through different scenarios and discuss how to
handle pressures, including offers of drugs or
alcohol and other risky situations.
your teen's itinerary and where he/she is staying.
they are staying home, know how they spend their
questions. Require a daily check-in via cell phone
and make sure your teen is reachable. Make sure to
have cell phone numbers for your teen's friends
and check in with them as necessary too.
Network with and connect with other parents to
confirm plans and coordinate ground rules.
important that parents resist the impulse to just do
what their teen wants," said Dr. Phillippe Cunningham,
associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry
and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of
South Carolina, Family Services Research Center.
"You're the parent. You are not alone if you're
uncomfortable sending your teen on a week vacation to
Cancun. This just shows that your parental instincts
are intact. Generally, adult supervision is inadequate
during Spring Break trips. Research is clear, parental
monitoring is a key parenting tool that can reduce
youth risky behavior. Rely on your parental judgment,
ask questions, and talk to other parents. Put a stop
to the trip if you are uneasy with the amount of adult
supervision or structure that will be provided. An
alternative would be a community service project."
shows that parents are a powerful deterrent to drug or
alcohol use, even when teens are far from home. The
majority of teens say the greatest risk in using
marijuana is upsetting their parents or losing the
respect of friends and families. For more advice on
preparing your teen for a safe Spring Break, and free
resources to help parents raise healthy, safe and
drug-free teens, visit
inception in 1998, the ONDCP's National Youth
Anti-Drug Media Campaign has conducted outreach to
millions of parents, teens and communities to reduce
and prevent teen drug use. Counting on an
unprecedented blend of public and private
partnerships, non-profit community service
organizations, volunteerism, and youth-to-youth
communications, the Campaign is designed to reach
Americans of diverse backgrounds with effective