Before Your Children Go Abroad

The summer is the perfect time for children to vacation or volunteer for summer internships in other countries.

To often children, and even adults, are not aware that the rights and privileges they enjoy in the U.S. may not exist in other countries. Each country has a different sense of what punishment may fit a particular crime.

What may seem to be a routine act here may be considered an offensive act in another part of the world. In some regions of the world using your left hand to shake a hand; smoking or kissing in public; showing the soles of your shoes; littering; or even using the internet may not only be offensive but illegal.

Nothing has brought this lesson closer to home than the recent death of the American University Student, Otto Warmbier. His crime was allegedly trying to steal a banner of the North Korean leader. It is important that your children hear about his story and other countless incidents of a similar nature, which have occurred in other parts of the world.

Research and review with your children the common U.S. customs that are offensive or criminal in other countries. The internet is replete with lists of actions which are offensive in other parts of the world. Almost all travel guides contain information as to things one should or should not do while in other countries based on their laws or customs.

Have a frank discussion with your children about having respect and tolerance for other cultures, rules of law, religions, and the diversity that makes our world so special. The bottom line is they need to understand that if they are going to a foreign country they will have to follow their rules and be subject to their legal system and sense of justice. The more information they have the safer they will be.

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