Staying safe on spring break
By Lisa Cipriano
It’s long been considered a rite of passage for high school seniors. Spring break vacation is a time to escape to a warm destination, let loose, have fun and forget about the pressures of school and college applications for a little while.
But, that little piece of paradise can easily turn into a nightmare if they’re not careful. For this very reason, more and more parents, especially of the Chaldean community, are choosing to tag along and chaperone during senior spring break vacations. At a comfortable distance, of course.
John Denha, from West Bloomfield, attended senior spring break vacations with each of his sons. He said he definitely will absolutely go with his daughter when she’s a senior in two years.
“You want to stand guard, but let them have fun and have some space at the same time,” explained Denha.
The hottest spring break destinations are no longer in Florida. Mexico is the new hotspot because the legal drinking age is 18.
“If you [are] legally old enough to consume alcohol, do so in moderation. Do not accept drinks from strangers and do not leave your drink unattended,” said Southfield Deputy Police Chief Nick Loussia. “At least one person from your group should be selected each day that will not drink any alcohol. Getting drunk is probably the number one reason that people get in trouble or find themselves in danger while on vacation.”
To minimize the dangers, Denha, along with a group of about 200 parents and students from Brother Rice and Marian high schools, had a well-thought-out system during a recent spring break trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
“We’d stand guard outside and sometimes inside the clubs that they went to,” said Denha. “A parent was responsible for a group of kids and we had vans to transport them to and from wherever they were going and make sure they all were safe and accounted for at the end of the night.”
Loussia recommends that parents do, in fact, come along for the vacation.
“It is a very good idea for parents to chaperone teens while they are on a spring break vacation. Teens might not do things that they shouldn’t do if they know that their parents are going to find out about it. A spring break vacation can also be a good time for teens and their parents to enjoy some time together,” Loussia explained.
Lisa Denha, from Bloomfield Hills, also attended that Cabo trip with the group and says they found a nice balance of family time and giving their senior son some space.
“The kids were all mostly hanging out with their friends and siblings. But every evening we’d all gather and have dinner together before the dads would go out to chaperone at the clubs,” explained Denha. “It really turned out to be a fantastic trip. We had so much fun,” she added.
Mexico can also be a very dangerous place in terms of crime, kidnapping and extortion. For those reasons, some people avoid travelling there entirely. But, there is one, very important tip to remain safer while vacationing at a Mexican destination.
“Generally speaking, all-inclusive resorts provide a higher level of security for their guests. Typically, only guests of the resort are allowed in the resort and the resorts have security personnel that patrol the exterior and interior of the resort,” explained Loussia.
Aside from tagging along to chaperone, there are some things that you absolutely should and shouldn’t to do to make the vacation as safe and enjoyable as possible for all involved.
“When traveling abroad, obey the laws of the country that you are in. Being on a spring break vacation does [not] grant anyone immunity from local laws. The same applies if you are vacationing in the United States,” Loussia said. This will take a bit of research, but the time spent doing so could just save you some legal trouble.
This is another big reason why Lisa Denha and her husband chose to come along on the Cabo trip.
“If your kid ends up hurt or in jail, the law is not necessarily on your side in places like Mexico. If anything were to happen, it was going to be on my watch,” Denha explained.
Thankfully, we now have access to a plethora of news and information at our fingertips via the internet. Do your homework ahead of time to know what to expect and be prepared for any potential problems.
“If traveling abroad, always check with the U.S. Department of State (www.state.gov) regarding travel advisories before you plan your trip,” Loussia advised. “Follow the guidance provided by the Department of State. It is also a good idea to enroll in the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) (www.step.state.gov/step/). Additionally, enter the phone number and address(s) of the American Embassy or Consulates in the country that you are visiting in your cell phone,” he added.
If you choose to let your high school senior attend spring break vacations without a chaperone, make sure he or she is armed with all of the above information and always remains vigilant.
“Do not tell strangers what hotel or resort you are staying at or what your room number is,” said Loussia.
He also suggests that you utilize any location tracking capabilities on your student’s cell phone to know their location.
It’s also important to protect your possessions and documents just as vigilantly as you protect yourself.
“Make copies or take pictures of your important documents such as your passport, identification and credit cards. Don’t be flashy, leave your expensive jewelry at home. Always keep your cell phone on your person. Leaving it on a table or a pool-side chair while you go do something is like leaving $500.00 on that table or chair. Someone will take it,” concluded Loussia.
Spring break vacation is meant to be a fun and memorable taste of adulthood. But, it also can be an opportunity for very good lessons on safety and personal responsibility when travelling as well as for adult life in general. Many parents from the metro Detroit Chaldean community are working together to ensure that it’s all of the above.