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Amanda Knox found guilty

The court of public opinion on the internet was frenzied.

Some pondered whether a bias against Americans — and Americans lack of cultural preparation abroad — contributed to the campaign by Italian prosecutors.

"As a parent, you worry more about your child being a victim of crime, not of the justice system," said Rev. Chris Brdlik of Summit, N.J., whose daughter, Abby, will study abroad as a junior in Florence next year through Roanoke College in Virginia.

"I'm surprised that the prosecution's case is so weak," Brdlik said. "I'm really shocked that Italy's justice system is not nearly as fair as the United State's system." 

Brdlik said he had hoped for acquittal.

Americans have criticized the differences in the Italian judicial system compared to the U.S. courts. The defense argued that little or no physical evidence pegged Knox or Sollecito as the assailants. The jury of six included four citizens, as well as two judges who weighed in on the decision.

"You send your child over to a foreign country, but if something happens and they get in trouble, who do you go to?" asked Abby's mother, Deb Brdlik. "It's not knowing what to do if something like that happens which scares me, not to mention that it's your own child.

"Abby will be living in an apartment in Florence with people she won't know. Who is she going to be rooming with, who will her roommates be having over? We don't know, we have no idea. You just wonder about people and their backgrounds. If something like this happened to Abby, it would be a nightmare."

According to the Institute of International Education, the number of Americans heading overseas to study rose by 8 percent in 2008, and increased four-fold in the past two decades. Open Doors 2009 reports the number of Americans studying abroad increased by 8.5 percent to 262,416 in the 2007-2008 academic year. Open Doors 2009 is published annually by the Institute of International Education with funding from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

"It's really scary to think about, especially when your daughter is living so far away from you," said mother Allison Leba of New Jersey. "It's even worse since she doesn't fully know the language and requires a translator. Having lived in a foreign country, it's clear that people look down on you when you don't know the language. They think that you are stupid. My heart goes out to the parents."

Editor's note: This story was updated at the request of Facebook poster "Brittany Sajbel," who noted that she plans to study abroad in Italy, but is not a current study abroad student.