Cruise companies go to great lengths to convince prospective passengers that their ships are safe. A common refrain from cruise industry promoters is that cruising is the safest form of travel in the world. For years, this claim had been impossible to verify, as cruise companies benefited from specially crafted crime reporting guidelines which allowed them to avoid reporting crimes that occurred onboard their ships. This obfuscation resulted in passengers not really knowing just how safe or unsafe cruise ships were.
Now that the aforementioned rule has been changed, one of the undeniable facts which has been revealed is that cruise companies have a problem with sexual assault. By far the most prevalent crime aboard cruise ships is sexual assault, and the primary victims are women and children.
Usually, underaged victims are attacked when they are alone. For example, MSC Cruises was sued last September for a case in which one of the company’s crew members allegedly saw a 12-year-old girl going alone into the cabin room that she shared with her grandfather. The employee then allegedly used his master key to enter the room behind the girl, where he brutally raped her.
Though there may have been situations in which children were victimized while in the presence of adults, such cases would be exceedingly rare. So, the question arises: how old should a child be before his or her parents will allow the child to roam the ship freely?
The answer to this question will depend on each child and his or her level of maturity. Generally speaking, teenagers are mature enough to spend some time apart from adults while on the cruise ship, but they should be informed to avoid suspicious people and to report any flirting by crew members immediately. Teens should be given a curfew and it is a good idea to have them check in with adults periodically.
As can be seen in the above example, some crew members are simply vicious savages who will prey on children when given the chance. It is the cruise company’s responsibility to provide a safe environment for its passengers and ensure that its employees do the same.