It's that time of year, when college kids (maybe even older High Schoolers), flock south for Spring Break. There's always plenty of concern as to whether or not to let your kids go. Unfortunately, with college kids, they may not even ask your permission and you find out too late. As a parent, I'm terrified of those days, especially with some of the stories we hear year after year.  Yes, there's the sunburns, drinking, debauchery, and drugs that are enough to lose sleep over. This year you could even throw in the Zika virus concern. But it's so much worse than that. I'm not trying to sensationalize. I'm just trying to inform you in case you haven't done your homework. After all, how many times have your kids said, "What's the worst that can happen?" This is.

 

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    Drowning

    We'll start with something we often forget about, but is a real threat. For many of these kids, this is their first experience with an ocean and these waves might be appealing. However, they can be very dangerous, especially if they are under the influence of anything. Although Cabo San Lucas might not be one of the most popular spots this year, the Pacific facing beaches there are known to grab people in. Even if they're just taking a nice walk along the edge. Truth is, any beach can have that effect, especially to the inexperienced. So make sure they pay attention to the warning flags minimally, if there are any. (I won't even start on ocean animal concerns).

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    Do You Know What 'Express' Kidnappings Are?

    There have been some entirely disturbing stories of kidnappings, and we'll get to more of that in a minute. Maybe less reported, but more frequently occurring are 'express' kidnappings. This is where someone gets in a taxi, who then takes them to the nearest ATM where they force the passenger to withdraw money until eventually letting them free. Could you imagine how terrifying that could be, especially when you should be able to trust a taxi? That's just not the case in Mexico, but this could realistically happen anywhere. The biggest pieces of advice here are to not use a debit card, do not wear expensive jewelry, clothes, or accessories, and stay on the hotel property. The problem is bad enough that you may even be able to purchase a Kidnap and Ransom policy.

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    The Common Concerns Are Worse Than You Thought

    Yes, as mentioned earlier, there's the sunburn, drugs, drinking, and debauchery. But there's also the fatigue and peer pressure, all of which tie in together. Besides alcohol poisoning and rape concerns, which are critical, what might be overlooked is fatigue. Spring breakers will go days without sleep, caught up with the party. The hotel might even be too loud to get sleep even if they wanted to. Lack of sleep clouds all sorts of judgement. Then add in more alcohol and potential drugs... scary. Plus, their guard will certainly be greatly lowered, leading to even more risky decisions. It's no wonder many go missing, even if for just a short time, during Spring Break. And again, this isn't just a Mexico concern. The "bad guys" will be looking/hunting for these type of people, and know how to lure them out of the crowd. That's when it can get much, much worse.

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    The Drug Wars / Criminal Groups Are Worse Than You Might Think

    Let's be honest: Mexico is very different from the U.S., and that includes crime and drugs. If there's a roadside check, you must pull over as police can and will open fire, even if the driver is just confused. Problem is, it might not be a legit roadblock/road safety check. It might be a criminal group who will rob you or worse. How do you know the difference? You don't. My advice, don't drive. And as I said above... maybe don't even leave the hotel unless it's a private hotel bus. But don't just assume the hotel is safe, as the drug gangs don't really care who's around when they take out a rival. Innocents have been caught in the middle. There's also a concern as spring breakers do look for drugs, and can get sucked into a dark world. Some have even disappeared, only to be found weeks later in a situation no parent could ever imagine for their child. Want to scare yourself more? Don't read this or this. It's enough for me to say don't even consider Mexico.

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    Kidnapping

    Combine what we've covered above, with the drugs, fatigue and alcohol over-indulgences. Then add in those who prey on these situations. There have been plenty of kidnapping cases every year. Before you go thinking they're safer as long as it's within US borders, that's not necessarily true. Did you know Florida is reported to be the state with the 3rd highest Human Trafficking rate in the US? This is a big time of year for that, as there're many "easy targets" right now. It's sad and sick to think about, but it needs to be a concern. As I said before, they know how to lure people away from groups too. And it's not just a girls vs. guys issue. Anyone can be targeted.