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Most children have positive experiences while abroad on holiday or visiting friends and relatives, which is important for their social and emotional development. For an unknown minority of children, however, visits abroad may be a time of increased vulnerability caused by violence within the family unit.
WHY ARE CHILDREN ABROAD MORE VULNERABLE?
Children on holiday away from home are highly vulnerable, and particularly so if they are abroad. They may be disorientated by jet lag, new surroundings, a different culture and a strange language, as well as a sudden absence of routine and existing support networks. Holidays and travel may increase parental stress and substance use (both alcohol and drugs). Parents may act in a less inhibited manner due to perceived anonymity while away from their usual domestic surroundings. Institutions that exist within the country of origin to support vulnerable children, such as local child protection systems, may not be accessible in countries the children are visiting. Other holidaymakers or local people who observe incidents where a child might be harmed may not know who to turn to in order to support the victim. These factors should make domestic abuse in families abroad an issue of concern for those interested in child protection.
WHERE DO FAMILIES TRAVEL ABROAD?
International travel exceeded 8 million arrivals worldwide in 2005.1 The travel sector is growing at a rapid rate and the number of international arrivals is forecast to be twice the current figure by 2020. Half of current visits are for leisure, recreation and holidays. Three-quarters of international travel is within the same region and one-quarter is long haul. However, the current growth areas are in Africa, Asia and the Pacific regions. This is important …
Competing interests: None.