Should College Spring Breakers Worry About Being Trafficked?

College spring break: it’s a season of small bathing suits, large beers, and photographs you desperately try to untag yourself from on Facebook. College spring breakers may be famous for making poor choices and getting themselves into bad situations, but most of them are solved with a trip to the free clinic or a phone call to Uncle Tony for bail money. However, this year spring breakers are being warned: you might be abducted and trafficked into the modern-day slave trade while partying in Cabo. But is human trafficking something spring breakers really need to worry about?

While there are some real risks to partying abroad, worrying about being trafficked should be pretty low on the list for spring breakers. At least, that’s true for U.S. college kids jetting down to Cabo, Cancun, or the Bahamas to dance and drink themselves silly. There have been a few recorded cases of Americans being kidnapped and trafficked while traveling in foreign countries, but these make up a tiny percentage of cases at best. In general, traffickers prefer to prey on people who are not well-protected. American tourists are perceived to have documents, connections with family back home, and financial resources, which makes them less attractive as targets. When American college students go missing, a huge international investigation might take place, i.e. Natalie Halloway (who, incidentally, may have been kidnapped to be trafficked, but was killed once the media blitz scared her captors). Many traffickers prefer to target local women as opposed to foreigners.

Spring break travelers may, however, encounter human trafficking victims while on their trips abroad. They could be cleaning your hotel room or working at the local strip club. If you suspect something is a trafficking situation, don’t try and intervene. Call the local authorities or a hotline number and report it. Intervening directly could put you and the victim at more risk for harm.

There are, however, some very real, related risks of spring break partying that college students should be worrying about for themselves. Sexual assault and rape on spring break are much more common than human trafficking of Westerners abroad, and much more likely to come from a friend or acquaintance than a strange trafficker hiding in some shrubbery. Alcohol poisoning is another risk of hard partying, as are car and other accidents. Being obviously intoxicated in public also makes you an easy target for muggers or burglars. Therefore, it is important to be alert and aware of your surroundings on spring break or any other time you travel abroad.

If you’re concerned about safety this spring break, check out Safe Spring Break. It’s got lots of tips for how to have fun without anyone getting hurt. Simply taking the time to answer questions like “How will I get to and from my destinations safely?” “What are my sexual boundaries and how do I enforce them?” and “How much am I going to drink?” are good ways to plan for a safe trip.

Have fun, stay safe, and worry about what’s really a threat this spring break.

Photo credit: a whisper of unremitting demand



The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: