Traditionally, Spring Break was a time for college students to return home and spend Holy Week with their families. In the post-World War II era, exponentially greater numbers of students pursued a college education. Spring Break no longer necessarily coincided with Holy Week but rather a week before or after, which allowed students to forego spending time with their family and instead pioneer a new tradition.
During the second half of the 20th century, students trekked from the colleges in New England and the Midwest to the Spring Break Mecca of Fort Lauderdale. There, they engaged in debauchery of every kind. By the 1970s, Fort Lauderdale was fed up with the reputation it had earned as a venue for drunkenness and vandalism. The town reinvented itself and expelled the Spring Break crowd.
Students eager to test the boundaries of what their professors describe as the limits of acceptable behavior in the absence of responsibility and conscience flocked to other Spring Break destinations, such as Cancún and Panama City. However, a convergence of forces has finally reversed a trend that once seemed irreversible.
An out-of-control drug war in Mexico, the disappearance of an American girl in the Dutch Antilles, and the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression seem to have transformed what was once a right of passage for college students into the yearly family vacation season. Nowadays, more families are visiting domestic vacation destinations, such as Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands, than college students once converged on Cancún.
Despite the family-oriented trend Spring Break has recently taken, safety remains a concern. For college students from privileged families, Spring Break remains a quest for debauchery. Young students continue to flock, in lesser numbers, to party destinations. There, they drink in excess, engage in promiscuity, and hope no one will some day find out.
While the safest bet is staying home, some precautions are implementable to decrease the risks. Parents should have their college-age children’s mobile telephone number set to roaming so that they can maintain constant communication. Ask for and check their companions’ mobile telephone numbers. Ask for and check the telephone numbers for all lodgings and any tour operators.
When traveling as a family, be sure to take the proper precautions to maintain the safety of your home. Never announce on public media fora that you are leaving town.