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December 30, 2011 > Safety while studying abroad

Safety while studying abroad

Submitted By Emily Sidley

Most parents want their children to take advantage of every opportunity, like youth travel or study abroad experiences with a program that can widen their horizons. But are they aware that no federal or state laws protect student travelers when they go overseas?

The scary truth is there is no federal oversight, qualifications, minimum standards or public reporting in the $17 billion+ industry that takes teens and young adults abroad. Tragically students are abused, abandoned and even killed on these trips, yet situations like these continue to happen around the world every day.

The good news is there are steps your readers can take to help keep young American travelers safe on foreign soil. Sheryl Hill, founder of ClearCause Foundation, a non-profit organization with a mission to keep America's students safe overseas, can offer helpful tips for evaluating travel abroad programs such as:

Research the program in your state and the state the program operates out of before you sign up. Ask your state's attorney general for complaints against the program; check the BBB (Better Business Bureau) rating for the program and the parent company operating the program; if it's with a university, ask for the Clery Act, Student Right to Know Security Policy and Crime Statistics on Campus; and perform an Internet search for the name of the program. If it won't report the number of accidents, deaths, rapes, and illnesses they've experienced - in entirety - don't let them go.

Purchase international healthcare, medical assistance, security and repatriation services from a reputable provider. It's a relatively low cost investment to safeguard your loved one's health and minimize security risks abroad.

Be prepared for an emergency before you go. Check with the U.S. Department of State for the U.S. Embassy nearest where they'll be staying and have then keep their consular's name, address and phone number with them at all times. Also make sure they know how to dial emergency services abroad - it's only 911 in the U.S.

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