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Spring Break Confessions: Part 1

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Teens go for the fun, sun, and surf ... and many add massive amounts of drinking, drugs, and dangerous sex when they get there.

These spring break confessions are shocking testimonials from real teens for whom going away means going to scary extremes--getting drunk and high, hooking up with strangers--and, too often, ending up arrested, sexually assaulted, or clinging to life in the hospital.

Although stories like Natalee Holloway's make front page news, author, pediatrician and ML contributor Dr. Cara Natterson says most teens can't anticipate consequences because, "their frontal lobe, the C.E.O. of their brain, isn't fully developed yet," which is why so many teens still live like there's no tomorrow.

So, how can you keep your child safe? "The most important thing is to set limits," says Dr. Natterson. "If you know the situation will be wild, don't let him or her go. It is equally important to keep talking to your child. Bluntly tell him or her what worries you. Use short-term examples like: 'You won't to be able to play sports next week,' instead of talking about long-term addiction or eventual loss of brain-cells."

"While it is true that the chemistry of the teen brain, with its impulse-intensive responses, will often win out over your words of warning--your words are still valuable," says Dr. Natterson. "Every time you sit with your child and have that talk, it's another piece of hay on the haystack. Eventually the stack gets big enough that you are influencing your child's decisions." Ready to get started? Download our discussion guide: HTML or PDF.

Did you or your child go on spring break? Take our Spring Break Survey.
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Coming tomorrow: Shocking teen confessions about spring break sex.


next: Kegels for *Dads* ... Say What?
185 comments so far | Post a comment now
ryan April 7, 2008, 8:30 AM

look there is one real easy way to stop them (unless there independent) stop buying them tickets to go seriouly f u tell them they cant go… then how can they go … or take them some where they might accually ” Rember” that easy
and to the 41% of you that LET your children go and finance them …. what if they do not return… there are some sickos in the world around you now ut a big red beacon up for sexual preditors to flock 2 mydaughter is only 1.5 ys old but this wouldnt cross my mind ever as a yes anwser…

Keen April 7, 2008, 9:18 AM

I was just sick to watch this on GMA.As much as I hate to say this, but some of them deserve what they get. And the parents have to know what is going on. If they don’t, they just fell off the turnip truck.

John April 7, 2008, 10:30 AM

Okay! The GMA “expose” was no surprse. It is just the standard “worry” stuff they throw at you every Monday mornings. This sort of Spring Break stuff was going on in the 1970s when I was down there. If we all are honest, we know this is true. I did some stupid things and paid royally for them. As a dad, I know my kids are going to, and need to explore their limits. They will get hurt for certain and hence, learn to be adults. Pain and suffering are wonderful teachers. If you are too worried about all this, forbid them to go or simply make them pay for their own tickets, food, lodging and whatever messes they get themselves into. To me, this issue is self-responsibility. Something we should have been takling about and teaching them all along. Even better, encourage them to do something productive, like helping the Katrina recovery.

MM April 7, 2008, 10:35 AM

Ryan get real! I went to my first Spring Break in Daytona back in 1991 and financed the trip myself. My parents didn’t “let” me go on Spring Break, I just did it. I had my own job and own money to enjoy myself. This kind of stuff has been going on for years…bfd!

James April 7, 2008, 10:43 AM

Spring Break is a great way to become an adult. After years of having to follow strict rules in the house, young people can finally let go and find out who they truly are without adult supervision. This is a risk which can be minimized by letting your kids experiment more at home instead of at the beach unsupervised. Stop the rules at age 17, and talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol. Let them drink at home before they end up doing it unsupervised in a hotel room.

Jason April 7, 2008, 10:45 AM

How do you keep your child safe? Hmmmm….what a concept! ….your child…. remember that they are OUR CHILDREN and we are not their “friend”! They look to us for guidance, leadership and discipline. How about getting off your fat arses and start parenting early on, like at the beginning when they are maleable and can learn true parameters of what is right and wrong. We won’t be there for them forever and if you haven’t equipped them by “spring break”, you idiots have already failed your kids. Sorry, but the truth hurts sometimes.

Amanda April 7, 2008, 10:54 AM

I’m 28. I never went on a Spring Break. I worked during breaks from school. I studied during breaks from school. Some of you talk as if Spring Break is this big rite of passage; it’s not. If you teach your child morals and stick to them, they will not feel this overwhelming desire to screw anything around, drink until their livers hurt or take massive amounts of the best stuff out there just because they are away from home and school. What’s truly scary is that if these kids come back from the experience fairly unscathed, they’ll be parents one day themselves and it will just repeat. “OH, I did it, so they should be able to explore as well…” that’s stupidity at its finest and you know it. And the others who mention that parents shouldn’t finance the trips, I agree. If they really need to get away, help them find a place to go where they will do good BUT do not finance the ability for them to visit the most popular place(s) or your daughter will end up on GGW and your son will more and likely see jail time. And you will all deserve it.

Hannah April 7, 2008, 11:18 AM

As a college student, I’m not terribly surprised by the video— there are a lot of *really* stupid people between the ages of 16 and 25 who make *really* stupid decisions, particularly when surrounded by their peers and intoxicating substances. I can’t say I approve, but some will get off scot free and others will suffer the consequences. I’m much more worried about the adults posting things like “Well, I was dumb and did this, so my kids will be dumb and do this, too.” Don’t you have any desire to prevent your children from making the same mistakes you did? If you have that attitude, *of course* your teenagers will assume that anything they go do on spring break is okay. Even if you haven’t expressly authorized their behavior, by not promoting self-discipline and good decision-making early in their lives you’re simply encouraging the mind set that stupid behavior is, in the end, fine and dandy. I’m not being unrealistic. I know there are plenty of kids with perfectly lovely parents who would be absolutely appalled to know some of the things they were doing on weekends and vacations. However, I also know that there are a lot *more* kids who would probably be much better behaved if their parents didn’t have such a laissez-faire attitude towards teaching them about values and consequences. I grew up in a very liberal one-parent household, and I’m a teetotaler— not because alcohol was ever prohibited or because I was told I should be, but because my mom taught me to think for myself and make good decisions, and because I don’t want to ingest something that just makes me act like an idiot. Assuming your adolescents are going to be stupid just because they’re adolescents is awful parenting. If you raised them well as children, they’ll think before they act.

Anonymous April 7, 2008, 1:18 PM

i went to south padre one year on spring break. This is SO true.

Kelly April 7, 2008, 1:33 PM

It really boils down to what you’re teaching your kids BEFORE they hit high school. I would never let my kids go, but guess what? They’re not even interested…why? Because I’ve been on their butts for so long about sex and drugs etc. and supported them in other positive activities that they can take a look for themselves and figure out that “spring break in south padre” isn’t where they want to be. They’re too busy doing fun, productive things and they know those type of spring break activities only lead to trouble. Is that luck? NO. It’s called BEING A PARENT, NOT A FRIEND.

Doug April 7, 2008, 1:56 PM

No surprise here. GMA has picked one aspect and centered on it and has become an alarmist. They (GMA) makes it sound as though this is a new phenomena. This has been going on for years and years. I went on Spring Break when I was in college and basically it was an extension the things you could do or “get in to” on campus, just on a grander scale. You can find all the same things on a college campus at anytime, Spring Break is sensationalized. You have to hope your child makes good decisions whether at college or on Spring Break.

KIM April 7, 2008, 1:59 PM

This is a self centered Generation. They watch reality shows; Jerry Springer; idiots like Britney as icons.
Teens looking for the 15 minutes of fame.
Shocked that these cities..don’t SHUT DOWN the underage drinking.
Parents living through their kids; being friend?
Anyone who lets their kids go..are IDIOTS.
Missing girls from Aruba?
Teens…….lack maturity and common sense.

Mel April 7, 2008, 2:00 PM

I agree with Amanda, she and I are in the same boat. Don’t get me wrong I party, but I do it responsibly. My friends and I know that it is more important to wake up in the morning than trying to look cool and drinking yourself stupid. I think the way that young people act is HEAVILY influenced by who they are around, skip all that science mess. Parents take it from someone who is in the thick of things, watch your teens company they keep. If their friends are goal oriented and have ambition, and you think your kid is a little lazy, don’t worry they will get on the ball, because they don’t want to lose their friends. If your kid has loser slacker friends that you can’t stand, keep your eyes glued to your kid! All that frontal lobe talk is great, but it really gets down to the fact of an individual (your voice in your kids’ head) vs. mob mentality (your kids’ friends in their head). Give your kid the tools to know that it is ok to stand alone, then they will have the power to tell right from wrong when absent from your presence. Otherwise GMA will be doing a follow up and your kid might be next on the international missing persons list for over a year. Simply food for thought…

Kimberly April 7, 2008, 2:30 PM

I am a college student. My parents raised me and my three brothers and sisters all the same way and none of us are the same. We were allowed to go out if we wanted to as long as we gave a number and told them where we were. I have one sister to LOVES to party and a brother who’s a Saracen (biker gang)and teaches bible school, and a twin sister who believes in God and attends church and tries her best not to sin, and then there’s me — who feels that people who think they need to get plastered to have a good time are just pure idiots. Parents may have a say in the role of how children act as they become adults, but the whole temperment and personality of a person is much more influential on how a teenager would act. Personally, if you’re raised in a family that has never been able to afford to go on vacation (not even disney land like all the other little kids got to do), then the LAST thing that is on ur mind is drugs and cancun. Gimme a break. I spend all my college breaks working back home to find enough money to pay off the 40,000 dollar debt college racks up. Be smart. Go to college, get a life, and raise children with the right morals — and thats all you can do.

Carol April 7, 2008, 2:40 PM

I went to FL on spring break, but it was with nice kids that believed in God. That makes at least some difference in what you do as a kid, you might not be perfect, but if you know there is a God watching you, you will think twice about what you do.

Mars April 7, 2008, 2:57 PM

If you are a kid or ever were one then you know PAH-TAY while you can. Enjoy YOUR LIFE and do not let stuffy nay-sayers tell you otherwise. Live it up to the fullest. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow!

Eyez2cwith April 7, 2008, 3:02 PM

No way would I allow my teen to go off alone on a week with friends. Not that I dont trust her, I dont trust others. If my child wants spring break, they go with me, and get some alone time, but not enough that I have to worry about them. Of course, they are taught what is acceptable public behavior and what isnt. Common sense is TAUGHT… not inherited!

Bob Wong April 7, 2008, 3:03 PM

If you teach by example, you have nothing to worry about. Kids only do what you teach them. It is all about being a good parent

Lizzie April 7, 2008, 3:04 PM

I thought this was about spring break confessions.
Rip off…

Brian April 7, 2008, 3:04 PM

I was raised very strictly and fairly. My parents were against drinking and drugs…always made huge points about it. They instilled great values in me that I used to graduate college with a great GPA and find work and be more successful than most of my peers I talk to. When I was in college I was considered one of the crazy ones. I partied like it was going to end, you know what, it did. I drank, I did every drug I could find, I slept with dozens of girls, but in the end I still did well in school while working 30+ hours a week. I knew my limits and functioned in those limits, I also knew one day that I would have to grow up and work even harder than I did then and be much more responsible. These stories are nothing new and I believe basing it on how you were raised is bs. I know people who are doctors that acted just like the people in the story when they were in college. Everybody is different and there is nothing wrong trying things out when you can

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