By Le’Juan Taylor
To most teenagers Spring Break simply means a week off from school and a time to have fun. Whether it is teaming up with some friends for an exciting road trip, playing a ton of video games, or even partying at a friend’s house where alcohol and other drugs may be present, our teens will find a way to have a good time during spring break.
It is our job as parents and other caring adults to understand the importance of keeping youth safe during a week where they are at higher risk to experiment with alcohol, and engage in other risky behaviors while under the influence.
Whether we like it or not, spring break can be a very scary time for our students. A week off from school comes with a lot of free time, often without adult supervision. As a result, Spring Break has the highest number of alcohol-related injuries and deaths than any other time of year.
Many college students see partying with drugs and alcohol as a way to celebrate spring break, especially those students who are away from home. This can influence younger students to do the same thing.
It is up to parents, teachers, coaches, and community members to encourage youth to stay safe during spring break. It starts with talking to our kids! Explain to them that Spring Break can be a time to have fun but it is still important to make healthy and safe choices. Here are some ideas for parents and other caregivers to consider during Spring Break:
- Encourage your kids to stay busy with positive activities, to minimize the chances for getting in trouble.
- Connect with your kids. Plan a family activity such as a trip to the zoo, amusement park or any other fun family attraction will make for a safe, fun and memorable time.
- Offer wages for jobs to be done around the house.
- Make a schedule with your student of things to accomplish, such as college applications, upcoming projects for school, or playing sports.
- Most high school students are required to complete volunteer service hours; some universities and colleges offer volunteer service programs designed especially for spring break.
Spring Break is a great time to connect with our youth, help our future leaders stay safe, and teach them the importance of giving back to their communities. For more information about underage drinking in Washington and how to prevent it, visit www.StartTalkingNow.org.
Le’Juan Taylor is a member of the Washington Army National Guard, Counterdrug Task Force, Civil Operations.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, call the Recovery Helpline at 1-866-789-1511.