From now on, parents who plan to send their children abroad to study in a foreign nation should sit them down in front of the TV set and watch replays of the Amanda Knox saga. It has all the elements of a true-to-life lesson in the dangers of turning young men and women barely out of their teens into innocents abroad.
Youngsters — and many parents — are clueless when it comes to the customs and laws in other countries that lack many of the safeguards which we Americans take for granted. They should study the Amanda Knox case. It is a clear warning that — unlike here in the United State — in many foreign countries the accused is automatically guilty until proven innocent.
Consider this: Amanda Knox spent four years in prison before being tried in court on charges that ultimately appear to have been baseless. Moreover, her chief accuser himself now faces trial and possible imprisonment for misconduct. She was made hostage to a system of justice where the accused is guilty until proven innocent and she was locked away until a trial in court could take place, which in Amanda’s case took 48 long months behind bars.
Four years in an Italian slammer — four years of waiting for a trial and a chance to tell her side of the story!
It is said that ignorance of the law is not an excuse for violating the law. That’s true here, but no consideration is given to Americans visiting foreign nations, who cannot be expected to understand all the ins and outs of the laws of those nations.
It is true that foreign travel is broadening. It can also be hazardous for young Americans born and bred in the best and fairest nation in the world, where the court system is designed to protect their rights and freedom of the citizenry — an uncommon idea in many nations abroad.
I can readily understand why some parents believe that study abroad enhances their offspring’s education. But I cannot understand how some parents can send their youngsters off to foreign counties to be on their own in a totally alien environment where many of the safeguards to their freedom, common here in the United States, simply do not exist. Many parents should consider accompanying their children on excursions abroad.
Parents need to wake up to the fact that the United States is the best and fairest country in the world. Our God-given freedom guaranteed by the Constitution is the reason why we have become the wealthiest nation in the word. Parents should educate themselves and their youngsters on the laws and customs of foreign nations before sending them abroad to study; otherwise they run the risk of losing them to an alien system of justice.
Amanda was lucky. You and your family might not be so lucky.
• Michael Reagan is the son of former President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “The New Reagan Revolution” (St. Martin’s Press, 2011).