Campus Visits Laced with Risky Behavior

Brad M. Griffin | Jun 11, 2012

When planning a college campus visit, theres more to consider than parents might expect.

According to this study report recently released by SADD and Susquehanna Universitys Center for Adolescent Research and Education, high school juniors and seniors visiting college and university campuses were met with options far beyond degree programs and athletics. Many visits included participation in risk behaviors.

The study of over 1,000 teenagers found that while on overnight campus visits:

  • 1 in 6 drank alcohol
  • 1 in 6 had sex or engaged in sexual behavior
  • 5 percent used drugs other than alcohol
  • 2 percent engaged in driving while impaired by substance use

Whats perhaps even more alarming, for over half of students who reported drinking or sexual activity during a college visit, it was the first time they had participated in these behaviors.

As we share about Sticky Faith we talk about the importance of preparing students for the world of new opportunities awaiting them on campus, including the increased availability of alcohol and sex. But these conversations need to prepare students for much more than the first few weeks of school. SADD makes the following recommendations to parents and teenagers:


Accompany your teens on college visits and find accommodations at an off-campus hotel.

Discuss with your teens the choices they may have to make and role-play how they might best respond. Teens with parents who regularly engage them in open, honest dialogue about such important issues are much less likely to make poor choices.

Explain your expectations. Parents who provide a strong level of guidance to their teens are more likely to have children who avoid destructive behaviors.


Understand the risk behaviors you might encounter during a college visit.

Explore possible dangerous “scenarios” with your parents and ask about their expectations for your behavior. Knowing what those expectations are will make it more likely you will to try to meet them.

Decide ahead of time (i.e., “in the event of”) what choices you feel comfortable with. This will make it easier to do the right thing when a moment of decision arrives.

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute, where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, writer, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of over a dozen books, including 3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager, Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and Can I Ask That? Brad and his family live in Southern California, where he serves as Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries at Mountainside Communion.

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