#039;Why#039; question lingers in missing teen case

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 11, 2005

As we write this, lots of questions swirl around unanswered in the case of the Alabama honors student missing for nearly two weeks in Aruba.

What happened to her?

Is she OK somewhere?

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Why did she go with relative strangers in a foreign country?

The case has sparked fascination by the international media and horror among parents across the globe.

The one question that will loom far longer than the headlines - regardless of whether or not we ever know her ultimate fate - is what business does an 18-year-old have being unsupervised in a bar in a foreign land?

Like many 18-year-olds, Natalee Holloway probably thought she had the world by the tail. She was an honors student who had just graduated. She had her entire adult life ahead of her.

Now all of that may have been lost. If she's still alive, her life will certainly be changed forever.

Lots of people look at the situation and ask "why?" Obviously, the parents will feel great guilt if the news turns more grim. But the parents are all too similar to many, many parents who try to give their sons and daughters all that they want.

Well, at times, restraint must be made.

We wouldn't want a 30-year-old daughter to go to Aruba and leave the safety of those familiar to her, let alone an 18-year-old.

Now, we all watch and wait, hopeful that some positive news will emerge, but fearful it will not.

We hope and pray that Holloway is ultimately found unharmed. In addition, we hope the fear the case has struck in many parents and students prevents more largely unchaperoned - or under-chaperoned - trips from continuing.

It's a tragedy that something bad has to happen before our society is shocked into a dose of reality, but sometimes that's the only way.