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Maloney introduces safety bill for students studying abroad

POUGHKEEPSIE –Parents of students who died during their studies abroad accompanied Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D, NY18), Thursday at Vassar College, as he announced he will resubmit a bill next week that increases the data reporting requirements for all universities offering study abroad programs. 

The measure, which is called the Ravi Thackurdeen Safe Students Study Abroad Act in memory of her son, Ravi, who drowned while studying abroad in Costa Rica, will require schools to report all deaths, crimes, accidents, sexual assaults and other statistics, ones representing potential dangers within a specific location where students would travel to study, to the students, parents and corresponding locations consulate.


Maloney, with Noelle Damon (left) and Ros Thackurdeen, who both lost children who were studying abroad

The data will be presented before and after enrollment in a study abroad program and will be part of a comprehensive orientation process for those students wishing to enroll and their parents, Maloney said.

“There’s nothing any parent wouldn’t do to keep their son or daughter safe but, you can’t keep your kids safe when you don’t know there’s a danger, and all this does is it allows some transparency and some reporting to help parents and students make good decisions,” Maloney said.

Congressman Christopher Gibson (R, NY19) of the neighboring congressional district has cosponsored the bill with Maloney as they make a second attempt to have it passed in the House.

Ros Thackurdeen, Ravi’s mother, explained that ever since her son’s death, she has been searching for answers. She has since compiled thousands of reported incidents, deaths, sexual assaults and accidents, all of which occurred to students studying abroad. This has effectively grown into a database, one which she believes should have existed all along.

“Even as governmental agencies, universities and third party programs, promote study abroad’s growth, there is no public safety data, no agency, public nor private, which counts deaths and injuries during study abroad,” said Thackurdeen.

Noelle Damon, who met Ros Thackurdeen on the Internet and had also lost her daughter Zoey to a car accident while she was studying abroad in Costa Rica, said it’s not right for parents to have to worry about their kids never returning home from their study abroad programs.

“When we send our kids off to war, we expect that they may not survive; when we send them to study abroad, we expect to see them again,” said Damon. “The casualties of war are not easily preventable; the casualties of studying abroad are and should be preventable.”

Thackurdeen has created an organization called Protect Students Abroad to make the findings of her research regarding studying abroad incidents accessible to all parents and students. The website: www.protectstudentsabroad.org is almost finished.  Thackurdeen urges any students, or parents of students, interested in study abroad programs to invest adequate time gaining information on the specific locations where they plan to study.     

     


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