Missing Teen Has Some Rethinking School Trips

Natalee Holloway was reported missing while on a senior trip to Aruba.
Natalee Holloway was reported missing while on a senior trip to Aruba.

While the search for Natalee Holloway continues in Aruba, some parents are rethinking allowing their children to take out-of-country school trips.

As Dennis Veigl puts it: "It's sure heightened awareness." He says parents uncomfortable with the logistics of a senior trip shouldn't be afraid to just say no.

His son, Patrick Veigl, won't graduate from Hewitt-Trussville High School until 2007. But that senior trip to celebrate is already on his father's mind.

Another parent, Kristy Duke, says Holloway's disappearance in Aruba makes her stop and think about whether she'll allow her children, who attend Erwin High School, to leave the country for a senior trip.

It's scary, she says. Duke says she might consider allowing a school trip if there were plenty of chaperones and if she sent her children off with a long list of warnings: "Stay with the group ... Don't wander off. ... Don't talk to strangers."

Senior trips abroad are a relatively new concept. Roger Hale, president of Adventure Travel in Birmingham, says it used to be a trip down to the beach, down to Fort Walton or Panama City.

Now, he says, more and more are going to Mexico and other Caribbean islands. Hale says major problems are rare, but a trip to the Caribbean could hold more risks than a trip to the Florida Panhandle.

Alabama Associated Press