Spring break is a time during which college students flock to warmer climates in search of alcohol, partying and very much needed rest and relaxation. It’s a time to have fun and go crazy.
“Crazy” is definitely the appropriate word to describe the events that occur every year around this time. Every year, spring break is littered with binge drinking, sexual assault and sometimes incarceration.
Some popular spring break destinations are Cancún, Mexico, Florida and the Bahamas. That being said, Panama City Beach, Florida is specifically one of the hottest destinations for spring break for college students.
In late March, a viral video surfaced, featuring footage of a brutal gang rape, which happened in the middle of Panama City Beach with crowds of people around the scene, minding their own business. On April 15, new footage of even more brutal images was released. The victim was 19 years old, and she told authorities that she didn’t remember what happened clearly enough to report the rape. Authorities believe she was drugged. Two college men, both students at Troy University in Alabama, were arrested and charged with sexual battery.
But I’m not here to talk about the perpetrators of this horrible incident. I’m here to talk about the witnesses in the video who were seen laughing and hanging out with friends on the beach, with a gang rape happening within a mere ten feet from them.
Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen gave a press conference on Thursday regarding his opinions on the incident and he stated that this video was one of many, and that it was one of the most disgusting things he has seen this year. McKeithen’s main sources of disgust were the “hundreds” of people who stood by and did nothing to help.
“And yet our culture and our society and our young people have got to the point where obviously it’s acceptable somewhere,” McKeithen told CNN. “I will tell you it is not acceptable in Bay County.”
This struck me. Like in most stereotypical circumstances of rape, alcohol was present. However, even if the bystanders were intoxicated, they should have noticed the assault happening so close to them. Did they choose not to act out of fear? Or did they truly not care?
My dad used to warn me about spring break — he said that I should always be careful if I go away with friends because bad things could happen. I thought he was just being paranoid, like he sometimes is. But I now know that he should be worried, just as any other parent should. These bad things are real and could happen at any time.
This spring break, I had also had the chance to visit Florida’s white sandy beaches and piercing sunshine. My friends and I went to the pool at night, and almost every night, we saw groups of men trying to pick up other girls, and sometimes vice versa.
Every time I saw that happen I got a bit anxious. Are those two girls going to be okay going back with those four guys? Does he know what he’s getting into, going with her? I just hoped everyone would be safe and make good decisions.
Hookup culture is seemingly a trend of spring break in our current society, which is fine. But when it comes to trusting other people to help you if you are in trouble, or going with them because you think you’re going to have a good time, this video should be a sobering experience.