As many teens prepare for a week-long recess - from school, structured activities, and supervision - many parents are on edge because Spring Break can lead teens to engage in risky behaviors like drinking or drug use. In fact, research shows that unsupervised teens are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, and are three times more likely to use marijuana or other drugs than teens who are supervised by a parent.
Parents can still keep an eye on their teens during these unsupervised times and help keep their kids safe and drug-free. You can set clear rules in advance, monitor their activities when you can't be with them, and reinforce the importance of making smart choices.
Some teens may stay connected during Spring Break by using their cell phones to take photos or video which can then get posted on social networking sites like YouTube or Facebook; but there are serious downsides. A recent survey indicates that six percent of teens who use social networking sites say someone has posted an embarrassing picture of them online without their permission. Parents need to remind teens that unwanted pictures or video taken during Spring Break can negatively impact their future.
 YMCA of the USA, After School for America's Teens Survey, 2001  Pew Internet & American Life Project, Parents and Teens Survey, "Cyberbullying and Online Teens." Oct-Nov 2006.
Not sure how to protect your teens while they're away from home during Spring Break? Follow these tips:
1. Be prepared. Set clear rules and discuss in advance the consequences of breaking them.
2. Check in regularly. Make an effort to find out what your teens are doing throughout the day and use this time to reinforce your ground rules.
3. Emphasize the importance of making good decisions. Encourage your teens to make smart choices and help them understand the negative consequences of drug and alcohol use. Get more expert advicefrom Stephen Wallace, chairman of SADD and author of Reality Gap: Alcohol, Drugs and Sex - What Parents Don't Know and Teens Aren't Telling.
Teens Make a Difference This group of Idaho teenagers uses their time off to give back to their community and participate in what they call an "Alternative Spring Break - Break Through." Read full article >>