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MIssing 11 year old french boy found...but what were the host family thinking?!?

(20 Posts)
hmcAsWas Wed 20-Apr-16 13:07:48

I currently have a 14 year old Spanish exchange student staying with me so this headline grabbed my attention. Thank goodness the 11 year old boy has now been found safe and well

Apparently the boy speaks very little English, arrived in the country on Sunday and was expected to get a bus back to his host family on his own.

Really?! - on what planet is that a good idea. Sure my children have been catching buses since they were 11 independently (to school and back, 11 miles away) but before they started to do this we did a dry run so they knew where to get off etc. They also know the town where they go to school, have mobile phones and of course, English is their first language

Somewhat different for an 11 year old boy, newly arrived in a foreign country with a smattering of the language!!! Sure this news article may not contain all relevant information, but on the surface of it I think the host family have been irresponsible

Atenco Wed 20-Apr-16 13:19:18

I used to teach English to foreign students in Ireland and I was shocked by some of the host families. Adult students were given the only room in the house without any heating, for example, and one thirteen-year-old girl arrived at a house as the family was going away on holiday and lived by herself in the house for an entire month. Fortunately she loved in.

hmcAsWas Wed 20-Apr-16 13:27:14

Blimey Atenco!

KERALA1 Wed 20-Apr-16 13:31:37

We host teenage foreign students. On the first day I drive them into their school and show them the bus stop home. The college give them a walking tour of our small city on the first day and I give them a total idiots guide of how to get the bus home plus we swap mobile numbers. Haven't lost one yet but this article strikes fear into my heart! ...

Owllady Wed 20-Apr-16 13:31:58

So had he spent the night in the park confused
My 14 yo has just done a Spanish exchange and they were bussed/supervised alot from what I gather
11yo is very young to expect them to cope alone in a different country. It's actually rather cruel sad

hmcAsWas Wed 20-Apr-16 13:41:37

I think that's the implication of the article Owllady

steppemum Wed 20-Apr-16 14:40:43

wow- dd1 is in year 6 and they have a group of German students at the moment. They are staying together somewhere, and doing everything as a group.

On Saturday we will host 2 students for the day, 10-4.

That seems about right for me for that age.

Cannot believe no-one noticed him, or that he wasn't in tears or something.

Hygellig Wed 20-Apr-16 22:14:36

Why do people do exchanges so young? I went on one aged 15 and that seemed young enough (especially given the limited level of communication skills that GCSEs afford you). 11 seems extraordinarily young to be navigating buses in a foreign country on his own when he not surprisingly doesn't know much of the language. Couldn't the host family have either picked him up or gone with him on the bus?

ladybird8131 Thu 21-Apr-16 00:02:49

I would never let my 11 year old go anywhere unsupervised, not in this day and age anyway. If people can't be bothered looking after someone else's child they shouldn't host them. I am very surprised they do exchanges at such a young age, it's a big responsibility for all parties involved. I too was 15 when I went I went on one. Now that I think of it, 15 seems young too(it is when it's your child!!!)

Rainbunny Tue 26-Apr-16 17:24:55

I've heard some horror stories about "host" families who do it for the money but should never have been allowed to sign up. I think some foreign hosting programs are unscrupulous and don't vet the families at all. My Japanese friend spent a year attending high school in Arizona and had a pretty awful experience. The first host family turned out to live in a trailer park, their trailer was very dirty and she was expected to sleep on a couch that pulled out to be a sofa in the living area of the trailer. She complained and was moved to a different family who at least had a house and a bedroom for her but she was tasked with a lot of the family's cleaning chores like Cinderella and told by the host family that this was expected in return for them hosting her. They were being paid to host her ffs! Her parents spent thousands to enable her to spend a year of highschool in the USA. Suffice to say she did not stay in touch with her host family after she returned to Japan.

KERALA1 Tue 26-Apr-16 18:18:17

Yes we quite often get asked to host our students friends who have had dodgy experiences at their host families - our 15 year old Italians were wide eyed about their friends host mother getting drunk and falling downstairs! Quite impressive for a Tuesday night we very dull in comparison.

That said it is usually the students who are badly behaved rather than the hosts.

howrudeforme Wed 27-Apr-16 18:29:43

Poor kid.

I used to teach on these kind of overseas language courses and I was gobsmacked at the lack of care given to appointing host families. Are there no rules in place to vet the hosts?

On the flip side, when I was a child my parents used to host students (late 70's early 80's) and I do remember one teen from a rich family who refused to attend her classes saying she expected my mum to take her shopping in Bond St. Another time I arrived home there were 15 youths in our back garden in tents. We hosted the group leader at that time, and the kids in her charge were taught in a church and they'd been caught burning bibles in the church back yard. All host families were unhappy to home them and they ended up at ours as the course leader (a lovely woman) was desperate - and very embarrassed.

VinceNoirLovesHowardMoon Wed 27-Apr-16 18:36:11

I host students. There is no system for vetting families. They send forms asking who lives in the home but don't visit. They ask if we have a dbs but never ask to see it. They expect long stay students to walk to and from the bus stop alone but it is only 1 mile. I had an 11 year old who couldn't speak English for 10 days, obviously he got lost. What were his parents thinking?

howrudeforme Wed 27-Apr-16 19:03:57


I think that from a parent's point of view reading the blurb on how your Dchild can get language tuition and be hosted by a family gives them comfort. I'd put quite a bit of the responsibility on the company.

The one I worked for was small, the directors had other jobs, they were trying to make a buck - I had to take them to court to be paid my teaching fees. Now imagine what they are peddling to the families of these kids who come over.

Atenco Wed 27-Apr-16 19:31:02

Oh definitely the companies are particularly at fault. As for " What were his parents thinking?" The parents trusted to blurb.

VinceNoirLovesHowardMoon Wed 27-Apr-16 19:56:34

10 days at 11 years old with zero language skills? I did a 10 day exchange at 13 and I spoke French and it was still hard work. I'm sorry but I judge those parents. Thankfully I spoke French so the poor kid could communicate but hardly the experience they paid for.

Atenco Wed 27-Apr-16 22:44:32

Well, in that sense, you have a point.

KERALA1 Wed 27-Apr-16 22:55:25

That's nothing vince pity the Chinese. We have chinese students who are boarders away from home 10 weeks. Aged 12. And forced to wear matching track suits and work all the time - no exaggeration.

One girl never really spoke to me despite our efforts. On clearing up her room I found a letter from her saying her stay at ours had been the happiest time of her life.

TragicallyUnbeyachted Wed 27-Apr-16 22:56:37

I used to work (in a summer job) for a company who ran trips to the UK for Spanish students. It was a serious rip-off operation -- they overwhelmingly placed the students (some of whom were very young teenagers) in the dodgy part of town, with "host families" who were doing it for the money, the staff were overwhelmingly unmotivated and underpaid, the kids were miserable. This is EXACTLY the sort of thing I could see happening on their watch (in fact I have a vague recollection that one of the accompanying Spanish staff got stabbed or something at some point over the summer having been left to head back to his lodgings).

hmcAsWas Thu 28-Apr-16 10:30:59

I had no idea this sort of thing was so poorly managed with such scant regard for the welfare of the students!

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