Send Aruba a message

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Hank Erwin/Guest Columnist

I have been following the heart-wrenching story of Natalee Halloway just as you have.

The Alabama teen is still missing in Aruba.

I am praying for a miracle, but the outcome does not look good.

Her story accentuates the problem of taking young people out of America on senior trips to destinations catering to alcohol-binged pleasure.

The access to alcohol is the lure to these foreign shores. They lower the drinking age and pour it on.

Sooner or later the tragedies are bound to happen.

Natalee Holloway’s story is one we know about, but I am sure there are many others kept quiet. Tragedy is bad for business.

Lessons are unfortunately learned the hard way so let me pass along a few of my thoughts:

* We should not allow school trips of young people out of this country to

locations that are specifically designed to intoxicate them and destroy

their morals.

* Chaperones who accompany such groups need to understand their jobs are at stake if injuries or tragedies occur.

* Parents need to set stronger examples at home and preach against the lure of alcohol. Wherever it goes, grief follows.

* Our government needs to send a strong message to countries that seduce our young people that American foreign aid will be jeopardized if harm occurs to any one of them while on their shores.

* We need to boycott countries that set moral traps for our young people.

Let countries that want our tourist dollars earn our respect by banning

alcohol sales to minors and prohibiting access to casinos.

The bottom line is this: alcohol is a drug. It is the narcotic of choice among young people. It spells trouble wherever it goes.

Countries that knowingly provide access to it need to be banned from travel by school groups in America.

Nuff Said.

Hank Erwin represents Shelby County in the Alabama state senate. He lives with his wife in Montevallo