Safety Is Everyone's Responsibility

Parents, students, and study abroad programs all have a role to play in minimizing potential dangers.

Among the responsibilities of program providers, they are to conduct periodic and ongoing assessments of safety conditions at the program site, excursion sites, and at nearby tourist destinations; to provide comprehensive safety information to enable prospective applicants to make informed decisions about participation and about their behavior while on site; to orient participants to help them avoid high-risk situations and deal better with problematic events; to take appropriate action if the local safety environment deteriorates; and to refer participants experiencing difficulties to appropriate medical, psychological, or legal help.

Participants, too, have their responsibilities, among which are to make available to the program any information that will be useful in planning for the their study abroad experience; to read and evaluate all materials issued by the provider that relate to safety, health, legal, environmental, political, cultural, and religious conditions at the site; to conduct their private life in a prudent manner, paying particular attention to local conditions as outlined by the program; to assume responsibility for the consequences of personal decisions and actions; and to purchase and maintain appropriate health insurance and abide by the conditions imposed by the policy.

Parents, too, should obtain and evaluate safety information concerning the study abroad location, be involved in their offspring's decision to participate in a particular program, and engage their children in a thorough discussion of safety and behavior issues linked to the overseas program and related travel and activities.

Study abroad programs cannot guarantee the absolute safety of participants or ensure that risk will not at times be greater than at home. Nor can they monitor the daily personal decisions, choices, and activities of individual participants any more than is the case on the home campus; prevent participants from engaging in illegal or risky activities if they ignore rules and advice; represent the interests of participants accused of illegal activities, beyond insuring that legal representation is available; assume responsibility for acts and events that are beyond their control; or ensure local adherence to U.S. norms of due process, individual rights, political correctness and sensitivity, relationships between the sexes, or relations among racial, cultural, and ethnic groups.

For further information follow this link to the U.S. Department of State Tips for Traveling Abroad.