Parent's Role in Maximizing Health, Safety, and Security

Parents, family, and friends play an important role in student health and safety by providing a support base for students. Parents will not be there with students, and parents need to be able to trust their students to make good, informed decisions. However, there are a number of steps that parents can take to help assure that their students are well-prepared and to reassure themselves that they have necessary information as well.

Talk with students about health and safety. Students are sorting through all kinds of information prior to their departure, and sometimes they may not think through the health and safety context. SIT Study Abroad offers detailed materials on health and safety specific to each program, and we hope that students will discuss the information with their parents. We also encourage students to consult other resources, some of which are listed on this website. Students will continue the discussion of health and safety throughout their program, during orientations and other sessions, but having a good working knowledge of the basics before they start the program can be very helpful. 
Ask questions. If a question arises after reviewing the program materials, please ask your student. Each student has individual needs, and parents know their students well enough to know what to ask. When parents and students discuss what possibilities may arise abroad and how to handle them, the issues are often easier to manage from afar.
Know program basics. Make sure that you know the geographical locations to which your student will be traveling and a general idea of the itinerary for the program, which will be available to students approximately one month prior to departure. Having this information can help you sort through news coming from the country and often can help alleviate concerns — if you know that your student will not be anywhere near a particular part of a country, then you need not worry about a news story coming from that area. Make sure that you and your student know what to expect in terms of climate; the environment; common health and safety concerns; and political, social, and logistical conditions. Knowing these things in advance can help inform everything from finances to packing to communication plans.
Know what to do in case of emergency, whether in the US or abroad. Students on many SIT Study Abroad programs travel quite a bit, and they can sometimes be difficult to contact. SIT offices in Brattleboro are available as a liaison to our sites and your student. If something is happening at home and you need to be in contact with your student urgently, you can call SIT Study Abroad's general line, 888 272-7881 or 802 258-3212, and we will be in touch with the program staff. In some emergency cases in the host country, students may call a parent or other contact at home rather than SIT’s Student Affairs office — please be sure to call SIT Study Abroad so that we can provide the necessary support for your student in-country. Based on US laws regarding student privacy, SIT Study Abroad relies on the student to designate an emergency contact and may not be at liberty to share information with others — please talk with your student about designating an appropriate emergency contact. 
Tell your student if you have concerns. If, during the course of the program, you hear from your son or daughter and have concerns about them, voice those concerns in a respectful, caring way. Often, students may only convey part of a story, or leave out a detail, causing undue concern for a parent; at other times, students may only express real concerns with a parent, and by discussing these issues, parents provide important support to students during a challenge. Students on study abroad programs experience tremendous ups and downs and challenge themselves to see the world in a new way. Do not hesitate to share in this experience with your student by honestly expressing your concerns.