Educational Editorial: Beach Week and peer pressure

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A popular Atlantic coastal web site posts, "Two ocean front houses have been added to our classic beach party homes…sleeps 20."

While adding a section called "look who is coming" with the names of a variety of high schools, it also highlights, "Very few come home rested and relaxed…the student vacation experts."

It is the beginning of the season of heightened pressure on parents to "agree to" and in most instances "pay for" a right called Beach Week.

This season officially begins with Spring Break and ends with graduation. While a family week at the beach sounds innocent and fun, these frequently unsupervised expressions of independence can result in tragedy, risky behavior, and lingering regret.

So what is the lesson? In 1999 two physicians conducted and reported research for the American Medical Association. It involved a study of 59 high school girls and was called "Beach Week: A High School Graduation Rite of Passage for Sun, Sand, Suds, and Sex."

Of the students surveyed, 54 percent reported daily smoking, 75 percent daily drunkenness, and 46 percent sex. Also 32 percent of the students had "persistent negative feelings" following beach week.

For parents, the worst argument should be that "every one is doing it"…because it is simply not true.

For young people, risky, and in many instances illegal, behavior can make a week at the beach a time from which there is no reprieve. Just as young people have the right to have fun, parents have the responsibility to make sure that they are safe.

Good student decisions usually start with good adult decisions. If you let your young people go to the beach…consider going with them!

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