Since the mid 80s, when MTV aired its first spring break special in Daytona Beach, Fla., the much anticipated college week off in March became more commonly viewed as a week to get, well, obliviated—even for kids under the age of 21.
During the 80s, spring break evolved into an excuse to party all day for an entire week. By the end of that decade, stricter drinking laws were enforced, and the mayor of Fort Lauderdale made an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America to announce to students across America that they were no longer welcome.
More recently, destinations such as Panama City Beach, Fla., South Padre Island, Texas and a few sites in Mexico are plastered across top ten college spring break hotspots. Has the partying gotten too out of hand?
According to drugfreenoblecounty.org, 20,000 fake I.D.s were confiscated last year in Panama City and Daytona alone.
Besides hosting a weeklong party, however, these spring break locations are home to a dangerous history of crime.
According to The Huffington Post, in February of last year, “The U.S. State Department recommended that Americans avoid travel to all or parts of 14 of 31 Mexican states. It’s the widest travel advisory issued by the U.S. since Mexico stepped up its drug war in 2006.”
According to a local news channel, during March of 2012, Panama City police answered twice as many service calls in the first three weeks of the “spring break season” than they did the year before, totaling about 6,500 calls. During the first three weeks, more than 650 spring breakers were arrested.
According to onlineschools.org, South Padre Island, Texas, averages 25 arrests per day and collects $80,000 in fines during spring break.
Besides not obeying the law, spring breakers also get involved with risky behavior regarding drinking past their limits and increased sexual activity.
According to onlineschools.org, “A survey given to female college students regarding spring break activities indicated that approximately half of the respondents were drunk all day during spring break, and approximately 40 percent drank until they passed out.”
Studies also found that sexual activity increased by 74 percent during spring break, compared to a student’s average college lifestyle. Over 50 percent of students also felt that being sexually active over their break was their way of trying to fit in.
Have you planned for your own personal safety and behavior in your upcoming spring break plans?
Sixteen students in the library were asked whether they were planning to spend their spring break trip traveling. Half answered that they made plans to party abroad, but only one out of the eight students planning to travel said that they considered safety precautions beforehand.
Six out of eight of the students traveling during the week of March 11-17 were going to Panama City Beach, Fla. PCB is popular because it’s cheap and it has a reputation.
“It’s absolutely wild down there, supposedly,” said Brennan Webb, Frankenmuth first-year.
Beware to all students traveling to PCB: law enforcement will be cracking down this year. The “Spring Break Capital of the World” will be preparing itself for its annual bombardment of over 350,000 college students during the month of March. Beach Police Officers and Panama City Police will be teaming up to begin “ramped up patrols” starting March 1.
The softball team will be traveling down to Orlando, Fla., this spring break and Christina Finch, head coach, has already released some regulations to her players.
“The only day that it’s an exception [to leave the gated community] is the day off where we’re allowed to go to the beach or to Universal,” said Nicole Romain, Macomb Township sophomore and softball player.
Orlando is ranked number one (based on violent crimes data, FBI crime statistics, car crashes and murder rates) on AVVO.com’s most dangerous spring break destinations.
So how will you prepare yourself?
The University of West Florida Police recommends:
- If you are staying in a hotel, ask the management if there are any areas that are unsafe so that you know what areas to avoid.
- Don’t leave your room key unattended (at the beach, pool, restaurant, etc.).
- Don’t carry more money on you than you can’t afford to lose. Leave the rest of it in the safe.
- Don’t give a ride to anyone you don’t know well or just met.
- Don’t go back to your hotel room with someone you just met.
- If you are going to drink, drink in moderation. What might seem like a great idea after a few drinks, may turn out to be a disaster once you’ve sobered up.
- Volunteer to be the designated driver. It’s always more entertaining to watch people act the fool rather than to be one.
According to safespringbreak.org:
- Pace yourself if you choose to drink, and avoid hard alcohol or other drinks that are powerful and have fast effects. Remember that drunks are easy targets.
- Drinking and sun equals sunburn and an even worse hangover. Sun can maximize the effects of alcohol, so keep this in mind if you party on the beach.
- Even the most experienced swimmer can get caught in an undertow.
- Go out with your friends and go home with your friend. This way, you can look out for one another.
- Hooking up: No, not everyone is doing it. If you do choose to have sex, make sure it’s protected. Decide before even going on spring break what you’re willing to do, and then get to work setting your boundaries early and often.
A blogger on gradguard.com advised after her trip:
“Utilizing the buddy system is key for PCB because there are thousands of college students on the beaches and in the city. Losing your party or one of your friends can ruin your night, so be sure to assign buddies and work out a communication system prior to leaving the hotel each time.”
Before traveling anywhere on spring break, do research beforehand—the wise research. Instead of researching the best bars, clubs and parties, research the location’s crime rate, which areas to avoid and any other safety precautions to keep you best prepared. Spring break is in your hands—decide your behavior and your boundaries before you go, and don’t show up without a plan.
Photo courtesy of Morgan Davis