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Hookup Culture’s Affect On Spring Break

Increased risk of STDs and sexual assault are a cause for concern

spring break sex stats

Many college students and “emerging adults” use spring break as an excuse for spontaneous sexual flings, according to a study entitled Sexual Hookup Culture: A Review by researchers of the American Psychological Association.

That’s not news, nor is it surprising, but here are some interesting stats:

In a study that observed Canadian college students on spring break, 61 percent of men and 34 percent of women who planned on having casual sex during their trips did, in fact, have sex within a day of meeting a partner.

“This is echoed in another more recent report, where regardless of relationship status, approximately 30 percent of participants had sex with someone they met on spring break,” the study said. “Such settings may help facilitate a preexisting desire for hookups (i.e., playful atmosphere and presence of alcohol).”

All the casual sex isn’t without potential consequence, however. Here are a few figures about spring breakers and STDs from the University of Wisconsin:

  • About 26 percent of men and 36 percent of women did not use a condom during sex with someone they met on spring break.
  • About 74 percent of men and nearly 88 percent of women reported never, or rarely, worrying about STDs.
  • About 49 percent of men and 38 percent of women said they hooked up with someone as a direct result of drinking.
  • Almost half of spring breakers (men and women) regretted their hookups that took place while they were under the influence.

Not too much evidence is readily available to show how many spring breakers actually end up going home with STDs.

Higher potential for sexual assault also provides cause for concern. On a Florida beach during spring break 2015, two male college students from Troy University were arrested for an “attack” on a semi-conscious woman, whom authorities said may have been drugged, while she was on the beach.

“Within 10 feet of where this happened there were hundreds of people,” said Frank McKeithen, police chief of Panama City, Bay County, Fla., according to a USA Today article. “Looking, seeing, hearing what is going on. Yet our culture, our young people have gotten to the point where this is acceptable somewhere. I will tell you it is not acceptable in Bay County.”

I don’t think it’s fair to generalize college students today by saying they find sexual assault “acceptable” in any way. It’s a psychological fact that people of any age are less likely to provide assistance to a victim when other people are around. The most famous example is Kitty Genovese, a New York City woman who, in the 1960s, was attacked multiple times by a man wielding a knife over the course of about a half hour, ending in her death. Despite many witnesses (anywhere from 12 to 38, depending on the source) nobody called the police or offered assistance.

But that doesn’t make sexual assault any less tolerable. While the more uninhibited sexual norms during spring break attract many men to the beaches of Florida, Mexico and elsewhere, the risk (as in, alcohol superseding your better judgments and getting you in trouble) can be just as great as the potential for reward if you’re not careful.

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About Luke Harold Luke Harold is a journalist who has written for publications including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Orange County Register.

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