Spring Break has come a long way since Connie Francis sang “Where the Boys Are.” These days, the traditional warm weather rite of passage can be downright dangerous. Take high school and college kids traveling unsupervised, throw in a little alcohol, blend in some members of the opposite sex, add the criminal element, and you’ve got a combustible mix.

Lake Highlands High School and many colleges & universities will be celebrating Spring Break next week, and young people need to stay smart to stay safe, says Dr. Denise Paquette Boots, associate professor at UT Dallas’ School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences. She offers this advice:

  • Leave behind a detailed itinerary, avoid traveling long distances by yourself and don’t tell anyone you meet on the road where you’re going or staying.
  • Safeguard money and travel documents, and keep them out of sight. Buy travelers’ checks, register the numbers in a safe place and carry only what’s needed in lieu of cash.
  • Choose a hotel that offers a safe for valuables, make a copy of your passport photo and carry it in your wallet. Don’t carry a passport unless heading to the airport.
  • Get an international calling card and carry it with you, along with a note listing the address and phone number of your hotel, next-of-kin contacts and insurance information.
  • Recreational drug use and alcohol intoxication raise the risk of victimization. Both women and their male friends need to take steps to reduce dangers. About two-thirds of all crimes against females – and up to 90 percent of sex crimes – are committed by someone the women know. 

“Spring break is a time for young women to take extra care with their lifestyle choices, to travel with friends and reduce their vulnerability, to ensure they’re aware of their surroundings and in control,” says Boots. “Young men who care about females can help by escorting them to their rooms and limiting opportunities for offenders to target women who are alone or are otherwise vulnerable because they’re in an unfamiliar place or intoxicated.”