Stikkordarkiv: #CSFES

What is an exchange organization?

Once you have decided to go for the exchange student life, you need to decide if you should travel with an exchange organization. Some countries, like Japan, give you no choice. No exchange organization = no visa. I don’t know what guidelines most other countries have about this.

What is an exchange organization

Basically, an exchange organization is a travel agency. They organize your plane tickets, the place you stay and the activities you will participate in (i.e. school). The receiving exchange organization is supposed to function as a guardian. Ideally you will be placed in a safe area with a safe host family that, at least, pass the same requirements a foster home would. Schooling should be at an approved (by authorities) institution.

Types of exchange organizations?

There are three kinds of exchange organizations. Volunteer organizations like Rotary, AFS and YFU base their work on volunteers. Usually, there is a small regional office with permanent staff who earn average salaries. Non-profit organizations can be a misleading term. Usually the term has to do with saving taxes. If the exchange organization has holding companies in links above it, you aren’t really looking at a non-profit organization but rather a company that utilizes what tax loop-holes there are. Exchange organizations like EF Education, Aspect Foundation, Explorius/Educatius/CETUSA, Forte International Exchange Association/Astar Education, Heltberg International Education, and Speak/Aspect High School all have holding companies controlling them.

Some of the exchange organization have their own travel agencies and insurance agencies.  Erika Travel Insurance belongs to EF Education. Rejsespecialisten is a sister-company to My Education.

For-profit exchange organizations are open about being in the business of making money. I do not know if their representatives get paid more than the non-profit ones (price per student placed) do. In the US, for-profit firms fall into the F-1 student exchange programs category.

Communication between various parties

In a student exchange situation there are several parties involved. You have parents of the exchange student, the exchange student, exchange organization in the home country, main office in host-country, host-country local representative, host-country school, host-family.

When you sign a contract with your exchange organization at home, you usually authorize them to function as a go-between for you and the partner organization. Most contracts forbid contact between parents and partner organization. In addition, the exchange companies seldom want you to have contact with your child’s school. Nor do they encourage contact with the host-family.

Your child is supposed to communicate with their local representative who is then supposed to bring the matter up the chain until the information eventually reaches the parents. The host-family is supposed to use the same route. However, our experience has been that what the parents are told is not always what the partner organization was told by either student, school or host-parent. We encourage contact between parents and their child, parents and the host parents and in crisis between parents and the school. We also encourage you to keep all contacts documented (emails, sms, recordings of phone calls etc.). Just in case.

Home country exchange organization

Most exchange organizations use the following procedure:

  • After the potential exchange student fills out application 1, the exchange organization makes its choice. Rotary require better grades than the rest.
  • Organization, student and her/his family meet.
  • Application part 2 is filled in by parents and student and signed by them.
  • All necessary documentation is collected by the company and forwarded to their partner organization in the host country.
  • Have information meeting.
  • Be a point of contact between biological parents and partner.

The Partner organization in the host country is supposed to

  • Train leaders and representatives.
  • Match representative and exchange student.
  • Match exchange student and host family.
  • Make sure ALL necessary documentation regarding host-family, representative and school has been forwarded to the proper authorities.
  • Make travel arrangements to and from host country.
  • Some hold orientations camps.
  • Be responsible for all host-country trips.
  • «Be there» for the student 24/7.
  • Support school leadership.
  • Ensure the student is safe during emergencies.
  • Return students who break the laws of the host country.
Reklamer

2014: USA News

2014 Dec 17: Markus Kaarma Guilty Of Killing German Exchange Student In Montana

2014 Oct 13: Exchange student program sparks concerns at Grant High School (fear of Ebola)

2014 Oct 13: Chinese exchange student denied transportation to school by Huntington School District

2014 Oct 03: Russia suspends student exchange program with U.S.

2014 Aug 24: Exchange student from Ghana dies in California kayak accident

2014 Aug 11: Exchange student found after night in hills

2014 Aug 07: China exchange student drowns in pool of California host family

2014 Aug 06: Foreign exchange student host used spy camera on students, police say: Lloyd Lindquist, 78, arrested on video voyeurism, child porn charges

2014 Jun 30: West Rapids host families receive USD 300 per month per student from Educatius

2014 Jun 04: Police: Maryland teacher videotaped foreign exchange student as she showered

2014 Jun 03: Exchange student hit by pickup

2014 May 23: Bond set at $250,000 for Wayne Miller, president of Cathedral Bible College with Myrtle Beach campus

2014 May 08: Shot in Missoula: The Tragic Death of a German Exchange Student (offer gutt)

2014 May 07: Ex-pastor is charged with sexually assaulting church youth in Harrison

2014 May 06: Sentencing delayed for Merced man convicted in rape, sexual battery

2014 Apr 16: Hamilton County man charged with statutory rape of foreign exchange student (vertsfar / offer = jente)

2014 Feb 04: Missing Egyptian exchange student boarded bus to New York City  

2014 Jan 27: Former Mormon bishop indicted of luring teenage child for sex (kjente tilfeller ifjor og iår = gutter / områderep for Educatius)

2014 Jan 17: Man Arrested After Being Accused of Sexually Assaulting Exchange students (handlingene skjedde i 2012: jenter ofre)

2014 Jan 07: Man charged with pointing gun at foreign exchange student (vertsfar pekte på jente + annen ungdom)

2014 Jan 04: Teacher Arrested On Charges Of Sex With Student (offer – gutt – ikke utvekslingselev men utvekslingselev – gutt – har fått bo hos ham)

UK: Entry requirements

Hentet fra Study in Britain and Ireland’s sider.

Om dere reiser med et utvekslingsbyrå skal de sørge for at dere ordner dette på riktig måte. Det er derfor dere betaler dem. Alle utgifter til visa kommer i tillegg.

European Economic Area
If you are a national of a European Union country or are from Norway or Iceland you are free to enter the UK to study, live and work and you do not need a visa.  … Icelandic and Norwegian students have to pay full fees as international students, but do not need work visas and so can fund their course by working.

Non-visa Nationals:
Non-visa nationals are from countries that don’t require a visa to enter Britain, you can arrive with the necessary documentation and be issued the visa when you arrive. You need:

  • Proof that you have been accepted onto a full-time course at a UK school … (totaling 15 or more hours a week).
  • A letter from your new school or college, … on their official headed paper, to state that you have paid your deposit and/or your tuition fees.
  • Proof that you have the funds to pay for your study and living expenses … (travellers’ cheques, a bank draft drawn on a UK bank, letters or bank documents from sponsors, or a combination of all these things). You will have to show that you can support yourself financially without relying on the British welfare state or by working to fund your studies.

If you are staying for longer than six months, it is advisable to submit your documentation to the British Embassy/High Commission in your own country and get entry clearance (a visa) prior to arrival. Your status can still be challenged but you have the right to lodge an appeal and remain in Britain while your case is heard.»

Australia: Which English language tests are acceptable for my student visa application?

Approved tests are:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Occupational English Test (OET)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT)
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test (also known as Certificate in Advanced English).
Below are the test score equivalencies (the scores required will depend on the visa subclass you apply for and your assessment level):
English Language Tests for Student Visas
Test Test Score Band
IELTS 4.0 4.5 5.0 5.5 6.0 6.5 7.0 7.5 8.0 8.5 9.0
TOEFL iBT 31 32 35 46 60 79 94 102 110 115 118
PTE Academic 29 30 36 42 50 58 65 73 79 83 86
Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) 32 36 41 47 52 58 67 74 80 87 93
OET Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass
TOEFL PBT 433 450 500 527 550 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a

UK: Hvem klager man til?

united_kingdom_political_mapProblemer kan oppstå mens dere er i Storbrittania. Noen av dem lar seg greit løse mens andre blir svært utfordrende for dere.

Uansett satser vi først og fremst på at alle parter er løsningsorienterte. Utvekslingseleven begynner med å henvende seg til vertsfamilien og/eller den lokale representanten.

Men HOLD ALLTID FORELDRENE DERES INFORMERTE. Det er bare dere som kan gi dem din egen versjon. Sørg for å sende dem kopi av all dokumentasjon og forsøk i så stor grad som mulig å få alt skriftlig. Det er det utvekslingsbyråene gjør når de krever at dere skal skrive under på såkalte «Agreements» i løpet av utvekslingsåret. Husk at dere allerede har undertegnet avtale to ganger før avreise.

Dersom ikke den lokale representanten hører på dere klag høyere opp. Enten gjør dere det eller så gjør foreldrene deres det. Jeg forstår godt om dere ikke tør gå videre med saken før dere kommer hjem. Alt for mange elever har fortalt meg historiene sine til at jeg har noen illusjoner igjen når det gjelder denne bransjen.

Om dere venter med å gå videre med saken, ta for all del bilder av forholdene. Behold alle papirer. Ta opp samtaler. Før logg. Send kopier til foreldrene deres.

Når dere kommer tilbake til Norge må dere klage INNEN det har gått en måned. Sjekk kontrakten deres så ser dere at de fleste utvekslingsfirmaene har denne klausulen.

England:

DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION har ansvaret for utvekslingselevene mens dere er i UK. Det er også dem man klager til både mens man er i UK og etter at man kommer tilbake til Norge. Ansvarlig person per 2014 Feb 18 er:

Mr. Nigel Fulton: nigel.fulton@education.gsi.gov.uk

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner: info.request@childrenscommissioner.gsi.gov.uk / Tel: 020 7783 8330

Litt nærmere utvekslingshjemmet er det lokale Council og det lokale politiet. Listen over Civic Offices finnes på GOV.UK Jeg vet helt sikkert at de kommer og undersøker hjemmet dere bor i.

Wales:

WELSH GOVERNMENT (Department for Education and Skills)

Minister for Education and Skills
Huw Lewis: Correspondence.Huw.Lewis@Wales.gsi.gov.uk

Children’s Commissioner for Wales: post@childcomwales.org.uk / Tel: 01792 765600

Scotland:

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT (Department for Education and Lifelong Learning)

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning: Michael Russell MSP

ceu@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People: inbox@sccyp.org.uk / Tel: 0131 558 3733

Northern Ireland:

NORTHERN IRELAND’S GOVERMENT (Department of Education)

The Education Minister: John Dowd

Northern Ireland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People: info@niccy.org / Tel: 028 9031 1616


Norwegian Embassy in the UK

  • E-mail: emb.london@mfa.no
  • Phone: +44 (0) 20 7591 5500 (Monday-Friday 10.00-11.00 – Wednesdays closed)

De har liste over det lokale konsulatet. Jeg anbefaler varmt at dere tar kontakt med dem mens dere er i UK. I USA er konsulatene stort sett behjelpelige om utvekslingseleven får store problemer.


In case of emergency in the UK, please phone:

Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) is dedicated to eradicating the sexual abuse of children. That means we are part of UK policing and very much about tracking and bringing offenders to account either directly or in partnership with local and international forces.)

 Child-Safe UK (child protection charity that aims to safeguard and prevent the abuse of children and young people away from home, particularly in the global youth travel sector)


Jeg forsøker å holde denne posten oppdatert.

USA: Hvem klager man til og hvordan klager man?

Jeg tenkte det kunne være greit å ha en mal på hvordan klagen man sender inn til ECA (klageinstansen for utvekslingselever) kan se ut. Den inkluderer emailadressene man skal benytte. CSFES hadde satt stor pris på om dere kunne sende en kopi til oss. Nederst står alle dere må sende kopi til pluss alle emailadressene dere trenger:

United States Department of State
Office of Private Sector Exchange Administration
Mr. Henry Scott, Director
Private Sector Programs Division
James Alexander, Branch Chief
Darra Klein, Branch Chief

Dear Sirs and Madams,

RE: Elevens navn, landskode (NO…), Utvekslingsorganisjonene

–  Sakens natur

PARTIES

U.S. Placement Agency: Navn på organisasjon
–  De ulike menneskene der har hatt med å gjøre oppover i hierarkiet

Sending Agency:  Navn på norsk organisasjon
–  De ulike representantene oppover i hierarkiet

Exchange student:

Host family: Navn, adresse, kontaktinformasjon

School: Navn (adresse og kontaktinformasjon)

FACTS:
1. Ankomstsdato
2. Når problemene startet
3. Når dere gjorde andre oppmerksomme på problemet.
4. Deres reaksjon
5. Hjemsendelsesdato (om aktuelt)

Description and comments
Her pleier jeg å si litt om når eleven kom USA og hvordan familieforholdet og relasjonen til lokalrepresentanten var. Etter det går jeg fram skritt for skritt og forklarer hvordan situasjonen utviklet seg og henviser til vedlegg.

Erfaringsmessig er det disse partene jeg skriver mest om:

  1. På førsteplass kommer soleklart vertshjemmet (elendig tilstand) og/eller vertsfamilien og/eller nabolag.
  2. Utvekslingsorganisasjonens ulike representanter er veldig forskjellige personligheter. Noen er rett og slett mobbere og manipulatører. Andre er dedikerte som få. Oftest vil de som sitter høyere opp i gradene bry seg lite om eleven og mest om rykte.
  3. Skolen er ikke det dere ble lovet. Norsk lov krever visse fag for at deler av lånet skal bli stipend.
  4. Fremmede. Da er det oftest snakk om kriminelle handlinger.

Lise Lottes råd nr 1. DOKUMENTER. FB meldinger, ikke-slettede SMS, screenshots, bilder osv. Jo mer dere kan legge ved klagen som underbygger det dere påstår, desto bedre er det.

Sincerely,

Lise Lotte M. Almenningen
CSFES Norway

Encl: 5

Cc: CSIET

Navn på mottakerorganisasjonen i USA

Navn på avsenderorganisasjonen i Norge

SIU (Senter for Internasjonalisering av Utdanning)

CSFES

Foreldre

Til: AGalert@State.gov, jvisas@state.gov, AGexchanges@state.gov, HighSchoolExchanges@state.gov

Kopi: cpage@csiet.org, isaac@csiet.org, siu@siu.org, complaints@csfes.org

Om dere trenger hjelp til å skrive klagen (det er ikke alltid så lett å vite hva man skal ta med), har spørsmål eller bare trenger å snakke med en som har vært i en lignende situasjon er det bare å ta kontakt med meg på margarethesdatter@csfes.org


Skrevet om 22 desember 2016

1998-1999: Holiday Snapshots…Protecting Young People on European Exchanges from Abuse: Rapporten som satte utvekslingsindustrien på dagsordenen

(CHILD-SAFE TRAVEL-SAFE)

HOLIDAY SNAPSHOTS…PROTECTING YOUNG PEOPLE ON EUROPEAN

EXCHANGES FROM ABUSE (Research 1998 – 1999)

 

Chris Gould, Chairman

Child-Safe International Ltd

Avon and Somerset Constabulary,

PO Box 37, Valley Road, Portishead, BristolBS20 8QJ, United Kingdom

Tel: + 44 (0) 1275 816131  / Fax: + 44 (0) 1275 816655

email: chris.gould@avonandsomerset.police.uk website: www.child-safe.org.uk

Background

Legislative and regulatory concerns about the policing and control of child sex offenders, convicted or otherwise, has increased both nationally and internationally during the past three to five years.  High profile cases in both the United Kingdom and Belgium have focused attention on the best way of combating such offending.

In August 1996 the first “World Congress Against Commercial and Sexual Exploitation of Children” was organised in Stockholm.  Several countries subsequently introduced extra-territorial legislation to prosecute citizens who commit crime against children overseas (“sex tourism”) and an increasing interest has been shown in the sex offender “register” concept that was initiated in the USA.  Such a register was introduced in the UK under the Sex Offender Act in September 1997.  Concerns continue about how to prevent potential child sex offenders gaining employment to work with children.  Both the European Union and the Council of Europe have taken decisions with pan-European implications.

The British Government is currently looking at preventing unsuitable people working with children, under the auspices of an interdepartmental working group.  Legislation is expected to be introduced in the Spring of 2001 which will lead to the creation of a national Criminal Records Bureau, allowing criminal record checks and, in some cases, intelligence checks to be carried out by employers on such staff.  The Premier’s Department, NSW, Australia have been working on a similar piece of legislation earlier this year, entitled “Employment Screening Procedures for Child Protection”.

Following his innovative work with the “Holiday Snapshots…” research, Detective Superintendent Chris Gould has been collaborating with the interdepartmental working group on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers, to ensure that his findings are considered for any future legislation.

Introduction

 

Just when it seemed that child abuse had infested all possible “child” areas of our society, and that nothing else could shock us or present itself as “new”… along came some extraordinary revelations by two experienced British police officers.

Following exposure that a Spanish boy had been placed within a host family in the policing area of the Avon and Somerset Constabulary, United Kingdom, the father of whom was a known paedophile, Chris Gould and Kaye Jones set about examining school exchanges and the cultural, educational and language commercial business within Europe. They wanted to see exactly who, and what, regulates this multi-billion dollar enterprise.

In April last year, the Home Office awarded a grant to both officers, with a remit to identify the range and extent of child abuse on international visits, focusing primarily upon the European Union.  Their research project “Holiday Snapshots…Protecting Young People on European Exchanges from Abuse” has already gained international recognition  –  even prior to publication.  By April 1999, the officers were receiving the Police Research Award for innovation from the Home Secretary Jack Straw MP.  By now, this pioneering child protection work of the Avon and Somerset Constabulary, had become known as “Child-safe” and this specialist area of investigation was referred to as

“Child-Safe Travel-Safe”.

For over a year the officers travelled extensively looking at the best practice child protection procedures across the world.  The results of their research focus on homestays by young people under the age of 18 and have now been consolidated.  The findings were then segmented into a series of practical information books targeted at the main groups involved in organising or using international homestays.  The seven books provide practical guidelines on how to set up and monitor child safety policies whilst also providing a solid background of case histories from around the world which illustrate the extent and seriousness of this problem.  This paper can only hope to give a brief overview of the issues, findings and recommendations.  Further details of the work can be found by accessing the “Child-Safe” website (www.child-safe.org.uk), or by speaking with the authors.

Some things became clear almost immediately. No-one seemed to know the structure of the industry itself, such is its complexity and diversity.  The business is totally unregulated and few, if any, checks are being done in respect of host families, agents or organisations.  Crimes against children are happening and are either not being reported or the information is suppressed.

The research project was designed to capture anecdotal evidence from across Europe of cases where young people had experienced abuse in this way.  These examples were sought in order to establish the range of difficulties that young people were encountering, without speculating as to the scale of the problem unless records and interviews made it statistically possible.  This evidence would hopefully reinforce the need for legislation, regulation of controls to be put in place across the European Community.  At the very least it would foster debate as to the level of State intervention, raise awareness of the issues, improve self regulation and ultimately lead to enhanced safety and welfare conditions for young travellers.

Objectives

 

The project has two primary objectives:

  • To identify a sample of cases involving child abuse to or by foreign visitors within the European Community, following placements into host families by school exchanges, twinning or other educational or cultural visits.
  • To determine how the research findings can be used to assist European Governments, relevant travel organisations or other businesses, language schools, educational authorities or twinning associations in preventing the placement of young people on European exchanges in a home where they are likely to be at risk from abuse.

The project also has three hidden objectives:

  • Publicity, to ensure that parents and organisations are made aware of the potential risks inherent with such travel
  • To work towards the creation of appropriate legislation or regulation within the UK or Europe
  • To publish informative travel books/booklets to targeted audiences offering the best practice and guidance alternatives

Methodology (in brief)

 

à         Press strategy…release of information re research and cases uncovered

à         Personal interviews with victims, parents, organisers, agents, schools,

host families

à         Focus days held with specialists both in the UK  and abroad

à         Telephone interviews with organisations, victims etc

à         Questionnaires sent to host families, organisations and students

(10,000 – UK only)

à         Telephone questionnaire with 54 police forces UK and Channel Islands

à         Extensive literature searches, including internet search and document analysis

à         Visits to USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Belgium,

Spain etc

Research findings

It has been established that this “industry” is extremely diverse and complex, and for some twenty, thirty or even forty years it has existed without any form of regulation.  The standards within the businesses vary dramatically from those which have set up their own professional standards body to those ”cowboys” who seasonally set themselves up to make a fast dollar.  This can mean, for instance, that children are being placed within homestays that have never been visited, let alone checked.  There are many instances where extra children have turned up on the coach and organisers have resorted to knocking on doors randomly in order to find last minute hosts, some have even flicked through telephone directories, ringing locals who may be able to assist and at the same time earn some extra cash.

Within the first three months some 550 cases of abuse had been discovered, ranging from neglect through to emotional, physical and sexual abuse.  This was enough to indicate to the authors that there is a problem and from that time their efforts were concentrated on looking for best practice and guidance from which recommendations for change could be made.  Whilst the research considers all types of travel that young people under 18 years venture upon; whether it be staying in youth hostels, hotels, igloos or under canvas: 95% of all abuse cases uncovered happened within a homestay environment.  The number of recorded cases uncovered during this research now exceeds 1,000.

For many child protection professionals, the cases discovered will not be shocking.  They will not be different in any way to those already experienced within their own professional capacities.  However, one big difference is that of those first 550 cases which were Europe wide with a handful from New Zealand, Australia, Canada and America; only three had ever reported to any law enforcement agency.

Victims give many reasons for not reporting, for example; not being able to speak the language; putting up with the situation because it is only short stay; lack of understanding in relation to culture, practices or procedures; not having a parent or guardian close by or contactable, nor any other adult with whom they feel comfortable to disclose.  In many cases, the use of a telephone to either ring home or contact an adult supervisor or guide is restricted or made difficult by homestay rules.  In some situations telephone calls are forbidden.  Young people travelling abroad or away from home are vulnerable, some more than others.

If a report is made to agents or organisers, the young person is generally removed from the host family, but that is the full extent of the action taken, leaving an offender or suspect free to host again.

Whilst the research focused on cultural, educational and language visits made by the under 18 year olds travelling abroad, there was little, if any, safety, welfare or pastoral guidance being given by any organisation.  Since this work started in the UK the officers have worked closely with the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE), who, following consultation with the authors, have now published “Guidance on Pupil Health and Safety on School Visits” which includes advice about International Visits.  The British Incoming Tour Operators Association (BITOA) have also consulted the authors and produced a “Homestay Committee Report” giving advice for homestays.  The British Council, ARELS and BASELT have published some of the earlier pieces of guidance issued during this research.

The complexity and diversity of this industry, coupled with apparent under-reporting of incidents of abuse to the authorities, has resulted in law enforcement agencies having little, if any, intelligence or information on this area of criminality.  Limited intelligence and involvement, that is: until now. Law enforcement includes not only the police, but Customs and Excise, Immigration, Europol, Interpol, National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) as well as prosecution lawyers.

Specific Cases

Cases range from children not being fed at all whilst on a visit, to those fed solely on such things as peanut butter or jam in order to save money.  Others have slept three to a bed, some sleeping under beds or in a cupboard under the stairs and others as young as seven or eight who have simply been left or abandoned and have quickly found themselves to be lost.

There have been cases where the host family circumstances have changed and visitors have been turned out of the home following domestic disputes or some who were not accepted into the home in the first instance.  Many children and young people have been victims of acquisitive crime with property or money being stolen.  Some have suffered verbal and racial abuse and we have heard many reports of young people who have been exposed to domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse by their hosts.

At the more sinister, thin of the wedge, there are known, or suspected, sex offenders or child abusers who have infiltrated the “industry” – either acting as hosts or attaining more prominent positions as language school teachers or even agents or organisers.  The researchers came across cases of known paedophiles who have been trafficking vulnerable young people from places like Albania into Europe.  At this time, it is difficult to determine the full extent of abuse or the level of such incursion.  Suffice to say, that what has been revealed is considered to be just the tip of the iceberg.

There are but a few known, reported cases that have subsequently been investigated and prosecuted.  In Perth, Western Australia, a 65 year old organiser was convicted less than two years ago of the sodomy, amongst other crimes, of a 14 year indigenous boy who was en route from the north to stay with a host family in the South West.  This man had been abusing vulnerable children on such cultural exchanges for many years.

In Minnesota, USA, A 17 year old French boy who stayed with a host family, was convicted of sexual assault of the 12 year old daughter of his hosts, following several days of molestation.

In Nottinghamshire, UK a host father was convicted of possession of pornographic videos following a disclosure by the young Spanish boy whom it is believed he was sexually attempting to groom.

Scale of the problem

 

The scale of this problem is unknown due to the inadequate records kept within Europe in respect of youth travel.  Essentially, there is no base line from which to begin calculations.  However, to give the issue some perspective, estimates from tourist records kept by the British Tourist Authority and the English Tourist Board, indicate that in 1998 some 4 million children under the age of 18 entered the UK. Of those, just over 1 million travelled on what are recorded as independent holidays or studies.

From a European search, the researchers estimate that in 1998 between 5 and 6 million children and young people travelled abroad on cultural, educational or language trips, the majority of which passed without incident.  Although impossible to say accurately, the officers’ professional view from the work conducted so far is that in total approximately 4-5% per annum are suffering some form of abuse.

There are some 60+ million school aged children in Europe, so the potential growth in this area of travel is huge.  Youth tourism already represents 20% of the world tourist market and this figure is growing.  In 1998, within the UK alone, student expenditure was in excess of £1 billion (including course fees, accommodation and travel).

To give a further example of the size and scale to this “industry”, the Federation of International Youth Travel Organisations (FIYTO) represent some 289 member organisations world-wide in 72 different countries.  Their turnover per annum is 6 billion US dollars, serving some 14 million young people travelling annually and selling over 6 million air and surface tickets.

Research Methodology

 

Within the United Kingdom the officers circulated

  • 5,280 host family questionnaires
  • 1,242 student questionnaires to international visitors within the UK
  • 574 questionnaires to school aged pupils (12-14 years)
  • 1,260 questionnaires to university students
  • 731 questionnaires to organisers

The return rate is at present in excess of 15%, however, responses continue to be received almost daily.

Following the implementation of a media strategy many individuals came forward and face to face interviews were conducted with victims, parents, organisers, agents, teachers and others.  An abundance of mail has been received from people with concerns together with supporters of this work and organisations looking to implement changes as well as many individuals who have suffered abuse whilst travelling in this way.

Experiments were conducted in various parts of the UK, and police checks were made on host families employed by certain organisations.  In one such experiment, 700 families were checked, 26 had serious convictions for offences such as supplying drugs, armed robbery, indecency offences, serious assaults and two known paedophiles were identified.

Numerous focus days have been held gathering experts together both in the UK and Spain.  Searches have been made, throughout Europe and beyond, including both literature trawls and the examination of travel statistics and existing legislation.  Meetings have taken place with Europeans from the travel industry, youth exchange, education, child protection charities, law enforcement and others both on a formal and informal basis.

Presentations have been made by the authors at both the House of Commons, UK, and the European Parliament in Brussels highlighting the concerns and problems within this area of youth and student travel. Ministers are now working towards airing these issues within the European Parliament Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs Committee.

Emerging facts from completed host family questionnaires

 

  • only 11.6% of host families were interviewed face to face
  • only 13% were obliged to supply references
  • around 10% were never visited by the agents or organisations nearly 10% of organisers making a home visit failed to check on students’ sleeping arrangements or facilities
  • over half were not asked to sign any form of contract
  • only 10.6% of host families received an unannounced visit
  • 61.5% work for language schools
  • only 25.5% of host families were asked if they would consent to a police check
  • only 10.9% were  required to look after students’ welfare
  • 25.2% of host families said that they had experienced “difficulties” when hosting
  • 21.2% of these said the organiser had been “unhelpful” or “very unhelpful” at these times
  • 93.9% of host families were given information about their student prior to their arrival
  • 65.6% were provided guidance and practical support from the organiser

 

 

Recommendations – the way forward

 

Earlier in this report the use of criminal records was alluded to.  The authors are clear, however, that at this time, this is not the answer.  A code of practice ensuring a minimum standard of operation must be implemented throughout this industry and criminal record checks may form part of this as an additional safeguard.

The following is a brief synopsis of the detail contained within the travel guide booklets which the authors have produced. The books themselves will contain suggested formats for written documentation, proformas of checklists, examples of forms and full explanations of the bullet points listed below.

  • Young people must be protected from harm and their general welfare promoted
  • Children have rights – this must be recognised and they must be treated with respect
  • Awareness of child protection issues should be raised throughout your organisation – consider addressing the following

– write a mission statement for your organisation

– ensure that you have a child protection policy

– identify a “Child Protection Officer”

  • Develop safety procedures which minimise the likelihood of children and young people being harmed and which enable organisers and others to respond effectively to accidents or suspected cases of abuse.
  • Empower children and young people and their parents

– give them information about the culture of the country in which they will stay

– tell them where they will be living

– give helpline numbers and emergency contact points

– give everyone involved in the trip an opportunity to feed back about their experiences

–  inform  parents of all arrangements and itineraries

  • Establish links with parents and other relevant organisations, both in this country and abroad
  • Create the right environment to ensure a safe and successful experience – the key points are

– Support

– Communication

– Information

– Preparation

  • Share information about any problems or concerns you may have about individuals or in general
  • with each other
  • between agencies

  • Develop good practice and
  • review and continue to progress and develop

  • hold regular seminars and invite people from all aspects of your  business

  • commercial groups who hold conferences should extend invitations to the voluntary sector and others who are involved in the same work

  • Make sure you have appropriate management practices in place

– raise your standards of child safety

– implement a preventative strategy– it is better to avoid problem than to risk

– safety of a young person

  • Ensure adequate pre-trip planning is conducted
  • consider making a risk assessment of the homestays into which young people will be placed
  • distribute bi-lingual help cards – in the visitor’s own language with the English equivalent

  • advise host families about possible requirements for insurance relating to both property and their vehicle

  • Implement proper training – host parents may be acting in loco parentis and they need to understand the implications of this, as well as your staff/employees
  • ensure a basic level of first aid

  • give adequate health and safety training

  • make sure they understand what to do if a child protection issue arises

  • record and evaluate incidents at homestays – and share the information with each

  • other and between agencies where appropriate

  • Leaders should be fully trained and aware of their responsibilities

  • Recruitment of host families – for instance, language schools in the UK can do the following
  • Contact Area Child Protection Committees to let them know you exist

  • Form a relationship with your Community Beat Officer

  • Subject access checks can currently be undertaken for a fee

  • An interdepartmental working group has been established to look at the following new pieces of legislation

  • Preventing unsuitable people working with children

  • Criminal Records Bureau

  • Check employee details against the DfEE List 99
  • Check employee details against the D H Consultancy Service
  • Define the role of a host family – all parties need to be aware of expectations
  • Address the suitability of current advertising for host families, photographs of children and some text phrases may be wholly inappropriate and attract the type of host
  • Screen Applicants
  • conduct interviews over the telephone and in person

  • make sure that every person who regularly stays within the household has been met

  • ask for a declaration to be signed by each member of the household stating there is no reason why that person should not have access to children and that they have no

  • criminal convictions

  • two people should conduct interviews wherever possible

  • check the identification of the household members – use the voters’ register

  • ask for references – and then follow them up

  • Check out accommodation
  • hosts should be made aware of the organisation’s terms and conditions

  • hosts should be aware of all relevant regulations, legislation and safety issues

  • an accommodation checklist should be completed

  • a host family application form and contract should be signed and dated

  • Remember
  • children and young people should always be listened to, given a sense of belonging and kept safe from harm

  • parents should be informed, supported and encouraged

  • staff volunteers who work with children and young people should be trained, supported and protected

European Conference, Bath 18-22 August 1999

 

Between 18 and 22 August 1999 invitations were extended to over 100 expert delegates from the 29 Council of Europe Countries.  These experts, from law enforcement, social services, health, youth travel, education and various children’s charities and non-governmental organisations, together with government and European Commission representatives, heard key note speeches and took part in inter-active workshop sessions. Delegates were given an opportunity to critique the work of the authors and present their personal and organisational perspectives in relation to the issues raised.

The conference concluded with each of the European experts endorsing and validating both the work and the research findings.  Undertakings were given that the Child-Safe Travel-Safe guidance would be promoted in each of the Council of Europe countries and lobbying of governments would continue.  Through this inaugural network, delegates committed themselves to continue to work in their respective countries, supporting each other to the goal of enhanced welfare, safety and pastoral care of children and young people engaged in international travel.

 

 

UK Launch – House of Commons, 11 October 1999

 

On 11 October 1999 the Child-Safe Travel-Safe booklets were launched at the House of Commons, London, by Home Office Minister Charles Clarke MP.  Other dignitaries present included Senator Landon Pearson, Advisor on Children’s rights, Canadian Senate; Diana Lamplugh, Suzy Lamplugh Trust; Gordon Blakely, British Council; together with representatives from the Department for Education and Employment, The Federation of International Youth Travel Organisations and children’s charities such as Childline and the NSPCC.

Conclusion

 

You would not send your child to a house at the end of your street if you knew nothing about the person living there.  Yet on the strength of a glossy brochure, the payment in some cases of vast sums of money, and an assumption that someone else has asked the right questions, we send our children thousands of miles across the world to stay with strangers.

The companies, organisations and individuals that abuse this blind trust cannot be allowed to continue to profit from it and we must all take responsibility for the care and safety of our young people.