The first official week of Spring Break was a violent one in Daytona Beach, where six rapes were reported in as many days. Bearing in mind that only a fraction of total rapes are reported to police, the actual number is unknown but no doubt much higher—and we’re only a week into the season.
Of the six reported rapes, all but one involved alcohol and/or drugs. Three of the victims were unconscious when assaulted. Only one person has been arrested so far.
A volatile set of factors combine in Daytona this time of year (and, of course, not just in Daytona). Take the impulsive and risk-prone tendencies of teens and early twentysomethings, combine with an atmosphere marketed as a massive free-for-all, and add generous amounts of alcohol and drugs—and you have a story that for many isn’t going to end well.
Daytona isn’t an especially safe city aside from Spring Break, but with the annual pilgrimage it becomes one of the least safe cities in the country. According to cityrating.com, the incidence of rape in Daytona Beach is 3.39 times higher than the national average. The occurrence of all violent crime is 3.09 times higher than the national average. 84 out of every 100,0oo people in Daytona are raped annually.
The website Neighborhoodscout.com, which ranks how safe cities are around the nation, gives Daytona a 1 out of a possible 100. These statistics aren’t helped by the fact that during Spring Break, the normal population of around 66,000 swells by anywhere between an additional 100,000 – 200,000 people.
Last year, 41 rapes were reported to Daytona police during Spring Break. If the FBI is correct and only 37% of rapes are reported, then we can assume that more than 120 women were raped during Spring Break at Daytona Beach last year. All signs indicate that this year is going to be worse, and the victims are getting younger. One of the first six victims was 14 years old.
The harsh reality is that when thousands of women congregate in a place rife with disinhibition and overflowing with booze, predators follow. Whether they are opportunistic coyotes or calculating wolves doesn’t matter—both kinds of predators are there, both will leave victims in their wake, and most will not be caught.
With already 30% more Spring Breakers flooding into Daytona this year over last–an increase Daytona police weren’t expecting–the number of victims is unfortunately going to keep rising.