Sunday, March 9, 2008

Asking for Trouble

In the UK, common sense and logic has it that you just don't accept a ride in a private vehicle from a stranger. At times, this may seem like an over the top piece of parental advice, but is usually regarded as a sound tactic. Overseas, however, we lose this common sense for some reason.

Case in point: Scarlet Keeling, a Devon teenager living in India with her family, accepted a lift home from a stranger and wound up dead on a beach. Goa, India, where Keeling lived with her mother and siblings, is no London or Liverpool, but as a city of 1.5 million, similar precautions should be taken there as you might expect in the UK. However, as I can attest to, exotic countries can nullify one's sense of judgment. For example, when I was living in Nanjing, China, I thought nothing of flagging down a black cab. Well not nothing. I thought they were a cheaper alternative to licensed taxis. Granted I am a 16 year old male and Keeling was a 15 year old female, but the start of the sequence was the same. Whilst I usually traveled with several of my equally male friends, none of us were experts on the local road map and so could easily have been led into uncomfortable situations. Nothing untoward ever happened, but looking back, I was probably a bit foolish.

As the Keeling case proves though, foolish, naive decisions can bare consequences that are deadly serious. Unfortunately, Scarlet's problems were compounded as her mother and siblings were visiting another area of India at the time. The bells of the McCann case of last May are ringing whole-heartedly in my ears. Gary and Kate McCann left their 3 children, all under the age of 4, alone in a holiday apartment whilst boozing it up with friends. Fiona McKowen, Scarlet's mother freely admitted that her daughter had been dating a 25 year-old. In adulthood, a 10 year difference is not unheard of, but at that age, it is pedophilia. Pedophilia which the mother appears to have condoned. Whilst teenagers making naive choices is the global norm, parents need to be responsible in a foreign environments and avoid being lulled into the false sense of security that so often floats over foreign holiday hotspots. Otherwise fun in the sun will no longer be such a lethal tourist trap.

No comments: