With Spring Break 2006 right upon us and the hoards of students heading off to vacation in spots outside the United States, many parents look back on the Natalee Holloway disappearance and try to learn from the tragic events that took place in Aruba. Do not take anything for granted, not when its about the life and death of your children.
For many, such a trip is a rite of passage, a chance to test the limits of their anticipated post-graduation independence.
Yet fresh on the minds of many parents is the fate of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway, an honors student who vanished while on a class trip to Aruba last May.
“You have to think that incidents like Natalee Holloway raise your consciousness about what you’ve been teaching your children,” said Carla Trusty-Smith, a psychotherapist with Broad Ripple Therapy Associates.
It is that fine line between trusting your children, providing them with responsibility and protecting them from a dangerous world that they have no concept of. As much as teenagers think they know it all and college students want their independence, its up to you to provide rules. The acts of your children on Spring Break could wind up in tragedy. Natalee Holloway’s parents did the same thing that so many parents before them did. Discussed the trip to an extent with their daughter but never imagined what could happen. It is a parents worst nightmare to lose their child. Now imagine doing so in a foreign country where at every turn their is either a road block or favoritism against you.
There is not one parent who would want to be in the shoes of Beth Twitty or Dave Holloway. For all those who conveniently find fault in how they have handled themselves; no one if put in the same position can say they would not have done the same looking for their missing child. If they did, they would be lying. No parent gives up on looking for their child. No parent of a missing person ever does. It becomes their life trying to find them because the grief is too much to bear.
The disappearance of Natalee Holloway represents the worst case scenario of what could happen. Parents and students, plan for the worse and hope for the best. The Natalee Holloway case has proved that this is no laughing matter. As much as any place claims to be a safe island getaway, there is no such thing. Danger looms everywhere especially in places where people tend to let their guard down.
Parents are conflicted between letting their children spread their wings with new found independence and the need to restrict actions due to the every changing dangerous and unknown situations their kids will be presented with. One thing is for sure, if the disappearance and vanishing of Natalee Holloway in Aruba did not wake both parents and students up, nothing will. This tragedy represents the absolute worst case scenario of what could happen to a vacationing student. The typical teenage reaction and answer is, I am different, this could never happen to me.
“It’s unfortunate that something like this tells us we can never be too careful.” Trusty-Smith’s own 17-year-old daughter recently traveled with a student group to Ecuador.
“Parents often feel a conflict between wanting their child to stretch his wings and be independent and the fear that they can’t trust what other people do — those who may be potentially harmful to them,” said Trusty-Smith.
There is a reason why parents provide rules. Do not let the Natalee Holloway disappearance go unnoticed. Learn from the tragic events. Any teen can be as responsible as they claim, being in the wrong place at the wrong time is sometimes a fine line and out of your control.
You will not be in the United States and everything you have every known regarding laws, police and justice is different. This is why the Natalee Holloway story is an important one. It is not “pretty white girl” syndrome nonsense as many who have no clue what it means to lose a child. The legacy of Natalee Holloway and the circumstances in her disappearance is a learning tool for generations of teenagers and college age students to come.
Be wise, don’t take chances, watch your friends backs … its a dangerous world out there with people trying to take advantage at any moment when you least expect it.
(Please make sure and read this article at The Indy Star)