ABC Features Teen 'Confessionals'

If your 19-year-old son was on national television telling everyone he'd been “popping ecstasy and heroin” for the past five days, what would you think?  What about if your teenage daughter told America she was attacked by 30 guys who ripped her clothes off?

Good Morning America pulled the “shock and awe” play out of the playbook this morning in a feature about a college tradition everyone knows about but doesn't want to think about: spring break. 

Host Robin Roberts let video, taped by a Web site called, speak for itself (see video here).  The teens highlighted in the story were on spring break at South Padre Island, Texas.  The video identified most of them by their first name and age. Here is a transcript of what the teens were bragging about on-camera.  

Video shows beach littered with empty beer cans while three female voices say:

- My goal over spring break is to get wasted.

- Everyone here is drinking.

- The drinking here and the partying is just crazy here. There's like a hundred million kids here. (Video cuts to a wide shot of densely populated beach)

William, 19: The past five nights we've been like popping ecstasy and acid. So we've just been up for like five days.

Alex, 19 (female): Best thing I've done on spring break is heroin.

Unidentified female #1: Me and two of my girlfriends we got lost from our group.

Unidentified female #2: I got attacked by 30 guys, ripped off my clothes.

Unidentified female# 1: And they were pushing us around and shaking our (bleeped) -- pouring beer on top of us. It was like we were surrounded by guys. (She is draped in massive amount of “Mardi Gras” beads, some the size of Christmas tree balls.)

Sarah, 19: My mom doesn't know I'm with some random guy in his room or a couple of random guys (giggles), like 30 of them. (Video cuts to couple kissing on beach)

Unidentified Female #1: These beads, you earn them and you got to show your (bleeped) to guys to get them.

Kelsey, 18: I don't think I've had any water since I got here. Anything not alcoholic.

Unidentified Female #1: We've had the time of our lives. We're just like getting really, really drunk. (Giggling girl is heard in the background) Getting lost on the beach. It's like the best.

Andrea, 18: … plan on drinking, partying, having some fun.

Kelsey: I don't think I've seen anybody like not drinking out there even underage. Everyone I met has been underage and everyone drinks in public and hasn't got caught.

Brittany, 19: I got a Minor in Possession, which means I'm under 21 and I'm holding a bottle of whatever or any kind of alcohol whatsoever. I'm so upset because I don't have a job and I'm supposed to pay for it and it's like $200 and I have no money whatsoever to pay for that. (She is shown crying)

To her credit, Roberts looked very concerned when she interviewed Dr. Cara Natterson, a pediatrician with Roberts asked why the teens seemed so open about their behavior being videotaped.  Natterson told her that “this generation” of teenagers is very open to having their lives recorded. “They video each other on their cell phones, they upload video diaries on the Web. I think it's not a big leap to have a video crew come in and have you talk about what you're doing over spring break,” Natterson replied.

The focus of the story was that teenagers' brains are not fully developed when it comes to consequential decision-making ability.  Natterson said that the frontal lobe of the brain, the part that helps discern choices and weigh information, is not fully developed until people are in their early 20s. This brain science also explains why videos like the Jackass series are so popular with males 18-24.

Natterson's advice to parents who don't want to see their kids on video like that shown on GMA?  Just say “no” to spring break requests from teens. 

Roberts: So Doctor, parents who are watching this and seeing these kids talk like this, you know, openly, what can parents do?

Natterson: Well, first of all if your child asks permission say no. Just don't send them. Don't buy them plane tickets. Don't give them money to go.  The brain doesn't develop its ability to make really great decisions until the early 20s for most people.  So you're going to have a child who at some point is going to have a car and a driver's license and money and a job, and you can't say no. For those, you want to have conversations over and over and over again about what you're worried about so that hopefully they'll understand over time why you don't approve of the behavior.

Parents are tremendously important voices in the lives of their teenagers.  According to a report by Child Trends the majority of adolescents has positive feelings about their parents and enjoys spending time with them.  The report also showed “good relations between parents and adolescents lessen the likelihood that teens will exhibit problem behaviors.” 

GMA deserves credit for highlighting this story and challenging parents to step into the lives of their older teens to help them make better and more responsible choices.  Even during spring break.

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the MediaResearchCenter.