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Spring break binge drinking is tip of iceberg

Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 1:20 pm
by Tomahawk Leader
An item in the March 13 Tomahawk Leader

Every spring, parents around the country cross their fingers when spring break rolls around and their children flaunt their freedom in beach towns. Is there really any reason for concern with kids sowing their wild oats? The answer is yes, now more than ever before.

Today's spring break scene is drastically different from that of a decade ago, as tour and alcohol companies band together to create travel packages to exotic destinations such as Cancun or Cabos San Lucas where the legal drinking age is only 18. Travel packages often include free admission to clubs and unlimited alcohol, and are promoted using the appeal of limitless drinking and sex. Parents financing spring break trips are usually unaware of these marketing messages sent directly to students.

Spring break is literally the tip of the iceberg when you're talking about the drinking problem among college-aged citizens. According to a report by Dr. Ralph Hingson, now of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 40 percent of college students indulge in binge drinking. (Binge drinking is five or more drinks within a couple of hours of each other.) Each year, 1,700 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die in alcohol-related accidents including motor vehicle crashes; and 599,000 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol. Not only that, more than 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use. And perhaps most telling, 31 percent of college students met criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse and 6 percent met the criteria of alcohol dependence in the past 12 months, according to questionnaire-based self-reports about their drinking.

Spring break amounts to a national celebration of drug and alcohol abuse among this age group, propelling some individuals on to substance dependence or addiction and related problems.

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Re: Spring break binge drinking is tip of iceberg

Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 3:16 pm
by Tomahawk Leader
Another news item related to spring break:

College kids are prepping for road trips and beach parties as spring break nears, but consumer safety officials say dreams of warm beaches and fun could turn into a nightmare, if revelers let down their guard.

From the gas station to the hotel room to the nearest ATM, identity thieves often target travelers who may turn away for just a moment. In a public service announcement issued by a Florida sheriff’s department, a security video taken at a gas station shows a woman being robbed as she leaves her car to turn on a pump. The message says the driver not only left her doors unlocked, but also left her purse in plain view on the passenger’s seat. The message notes that the thief quickly opened the door, stole the purse, and left undetected.

Janet Jenkins of the Wisconsin Office of Privacy Protection says criminals aren’t just out for a quick buck when they steal wallets and purses anymore. She says many now want checkbooks, Social Security cards, debit cards, and passwords. Jenkins says the Spring Break college crowds are their favorite prey. She says people between the ages of 18 and 29 comprise the largest demographic of victims of identity theft.

Jenkins says parents may remember the con men and muggers of their college days, but warns that today’s criminals are much more sophisticated in gathering personal information. She says they have a great deal of technological knowledge in terms of the Internet, in terms of how financial systems work and in how financial instruments like credit cards work. She says in a number of cases, they are also tied to organized crime.

Jenkins says keeping alert, leaving unnecessary documents in safe-keeping, and avoiding debit card machines and public access laptops which can record account numbers and keystrokes are other ways to prevent identity theft while on the road.