Most families look forward to Spring Break, but if you have teenagers, and they happen to be among the hundreds of thousands that make their way to Panama City Beach this Spring, then your break might be filled with worry and anxiety.
Middle and high school kids, along with college kids, from all over the country converge on Panama City Beach for what promises to be a huge party. Some go with friends, some chaperoned, some not; others go with their families and beg to get away to the strip as much as they can.
Social media is traditionally filled with posts and pictures about partying in PCB for Spring Break. As my daughter, Haley, stated, “Everyone goes, Mom!” When three of us moms caved in and took our daughters and a couple of their 16-17 year old friends to PCB, it felt like she hadn’t embellished much. It was the first year I was letting her go during Spring Break, and only because I was going, too. Here’s what I learned…
Be Prepared for Debauchery
Not to instill panic on parent’s or teenagers planning their PCB Spring Break 2014 vacation, I just want to make sure you’re prepared for the impending insanity, debauchery, and nastiness of it all. Seventeen magazine dubbed PCB the “sketchiest Spring Break in America”. Yes, I know that’s what the teenagers want, and I get it. Maybe it’s a “right of passage”. Arguably kids should experience it once in their lives, but I personally believe they should wait until they are of legal drinking age, or at the very least, in college.
The strip is a melting pot of drugs, drinking, sex, and nudity. On our trip, watching preteen girls play beer bong with college aged boys was common. Clearly underage kids were partaking in drinking games all over the beach. Kids were smoking weed out in the open and girls were flashing body parts. All this was happening during the day, as early as 11am. You can only imagine what the evenings were like once these kids had over-indulged and become completely belligerent and promiscuous.
The Danger of Letting Your Teen Go Unchaperoned
After we came across a group of senior cheerleaders from Haley’s high school who had come unchaperoned, our girls started planning their trip for their senior year. After what I saw, I knew for sure my daughter wouldn’t be returning unchaperoned while still in high school. Now she’s a freshman in college and her sorority is headed to where else but PCB in March. I’m still nervous!
It’s not that I don’t trust her, or her friends but there are so many risks and dangers. Teens falling off balconies, picking up STDs from foam parties at Club La Vela, hanging out of cars driven by intoxicated drivers, and drunk, hormonal college boys who don’t take no for an answer are all things she might easily encounter. Now, at 19, and having lived on her own for a few months she, at least, has acclimated to the college lifestyle and is better prepared to make good decisions.
High school, and certainly middle-school age teens don’t have the maturity to handle themselves in these circumstances. Too many really bad things can happen in a split second. Maybe some of my readers will re-think their Spring Break plans or at the very least, try staying a little further out where it’s not as crazy. I’ll certainly have some kids mad at me, but parents need to know that just because every other kid at their school is going, doesn’t make it safe.