Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The dark side of spring break

My larger community (ie. the suburbs around me) have suffered the losses of two young lives to high school spring breaks.  Two more are hanging on in hospitals, loved ones praying for their full recoveries.

The first death took place about the time my family was on our Spring Break.  A local boy from a Cincy school doing what you typically think of as "spring break."  Underage drinking, not paying attention, (probably) getting cocky by hanging over one's hotel balcony to yell at people on other balconies and below and then falling to his death.

The second death occurred this past weekend when a group of eight local girls were in a single car accident in Alabama while on their way home from a spring break trip.  One died, two remain in the hospital and the rest are home with their families now.  So far, it appears no drugs or alcohol were involved, but only two girls were wearing seatbelts, according to the news reports.

Though different scenarios, both are equally sad.

My husband and I have different thoughts on high school kids going on spring break trips.  He thinks it's ridiculous and that no high school kid needs to be vacationing in a drunken party town for a week.  (I need to point out here, I was totally shocked when he told me this.  MG often is more of a "free-range" type parent than I am!)  Especially on a parent's dime.  I don't really disagree with that.  I'm certainly not saying I would permit my kids to go on a spring break trip alone.  But I do recognize that there are some low key places one can go for spring break.  I also recognize that not all kids behave the same.  The major thing I can't ignore, though, is that in a few short months, these HS kids are all going to college.  And I don't know about you, but I don't intend to go to college with my kids.  So that means that at the young age of 18, which I was and most HS Seniors are, these kids are going to be out on their own, ready or not.  I'm not saying that's an excuse to hand over one's credit card and send them down the highway to Daytona Beach, Panama City Beach or any other party location.  However, I can't overlook that if kids can't handle spring break as a senior in HS, they may not be able to handle college, either.  There's not a lot of growing up that happens between April, when they are seniors in high school and August, when they leave for college.

It seems like a very fine line to me.


  1. So sorry to hear about all of this.

    I agree, there's not much time for maturing between spring break of the senior year and the fall semester of college; if kids party like there's no tomorrow in the first, the latter could easily be little more than an extension if the circumstances present themselves. And they often do.

    However, witnessing such horrific accidents also may have sobered more than a few up... literally and figuratively.

    I am MOST thankful our own kids refrained from even asking about spring break trips during high school and have managed to keep themselves focused during college... which ends for both of them next month.



  2. I'm so sorry to hear about this :(

    My parents had me on such a tight leash in high school. When I went to college, I really had to figure out how to handle my new found freedom, and they were terrified.

    If I have children, I hope that I remember what it was like.

  3. What horrible tragedies. I am in the middle of you and MG yes give them their freedom, but also some boundaries. That being said, kids are going to do whatever they want to do no matter how well or how poorly they were raised.

    They do have to learn how to grow up sometime (I still haven't) All we can do is love them, teach them, and pray for the best outcome.

    I will pray for all of the families involved.

  4. It seems to be a terrible tradition for these accidents to occur just before h.s. graduation.

    Whenever I feel like chaining my children down when it comes to spring break or any of their other adventures I have to remember how grown up I felt at their age. I'm sure I was less afraid and more willing try new things at their age and I would love to have that spirit back.

    My children prefer outdoor adventures for their spring break (camping etc) but that can be just as just doesn't usually involve a ton of other kids.

    One year we went to Mexico during college spring break time. BIG mistake. I will never do that again. They were obnoxious to the nth degree. Now I sound REALLY old.

  5. What sad stories. Youth always think they are invincible. Seat belts are such an easy way to offer safety.

    I think you are right about kids not really being ready to handle real life as freshmen in college. When we let our oldest two leave home as freshmen we tried to keep low-key tabs on them because they still need parenting.

  6. As a teacher of 17 and 18 year olds, it's always a bit scary to me when those sorts of hallmark events--Spring Break, prom, graduation--are upon us because the potential for tragedy is exponentially higher during those times. Be it alcohol, too-inexperienced-drivers on the road, or that unique ability to see oneself as invincible, there are factors that intersect during those times in particular that make me afraid to open the local paper for fear of seeing my students featured as fallen victims.

  7. I was going to post on this EXACT type thing today, but I just got swamped at work so I think I'll use your blog as a dumping ground! Here in the Philly/Jersey area kids go on "Senior Week" right from graduation. Most kids who are allowed rent shore houses, and it's a free for all for an entire week on mom and dad's dime. Of course it's hedonism. Sex and drugs and rock and roll stuff.

    I remember talking to kids I met as a college freshman, and they were still trying to get over the shock of what they did that week. A few of the girls got pregnant (most got abortions, but two girls in my dorm were pregnant our freshman year and ended up leaving the dorm when the babies were born) and a few people got STDs- college boys and local guys love to prey on the hs girls. Luckily they were the kind of STDs that could be cleared up with antibiotics.

    The good thing was that it sort of scared them straight and they didn't act out in college.

    The bad thing was they did all that.

    I think people do tend to go a bit wild in college sometimes, but you have some responsibility there too. Definitely school work, and some home sickness, and maybe some bills. College isn't vacation.

    My husband went on Senior Week, and luckily he got too drunk and high to sleep around (we started dating a month into college). I never heard of it before, but I'm guessing my overly strict parents would have never let me go.

    I don't think that either my husband nor I would let our son go, but I think that in lieu of that we would give him something of equal value. Or some of my friends who have kids in high school (gah! how did that happen!) take family vacations that week and let the kids hang out during the day but put a curfew on them at night. So, the kids are with their friends but not 24/7.

    It's all weird. And scary.