Social Question

john65pennington's avatar

16 year old sailor Abbey Sunderland: should her parents be arrested?

Asked by john65pennington (29182points) June 11th, 2010

Parents have three responsibilities, when they bare children. 1. a roof over their heads, 2. food on the table, 3. their children’s safety and education. it appears that Abbey Sunderlands parents have failed by not providing safety for their 16 year old juvenile daughter. instead, her parents have encouraged her to attempt to set a world record at sea, by herself, at the age of 16. this attempt has almost ended her life. a 16 year old may have the knowledge of sailing, but not the experience of making rational decisions in an emergency. this is evident in this situation. a juvenile’s brain is not fully developed, until around the early 20s.

I feel that Abbey Sunderland’s parents are guilty of contributing to the delinquency of their own daughter, by saying “yes” to this sailing voyage, instead of “no”. i am thankful she has survived the enormous waves that battered her boat. it could have been a tragedy.

I am alone in my opinion?

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30 Answers

MissA's avatar

I’m with you on this one to a point…that they weren’t protecting her. But, I don’t think they should be arrested. The parents should have to bear any costs related to her rescue.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I don’t think they should be arrested. You said that “a 16 year old may have the knowledge of sailing, but not the experience of making rational decisions in an emergency”, but she did just that. Once her mast was broken, she turned on her emergency beacon. She kept her cool and handled herself well. I don’t think Abby is the typical 16-year-old. She was trained for what she did and prepared for it. If this would not have happened, people wouldn’t be saying anything about it (just like people aren’t complaining about the other 16-year-old that just completed the same task or about Abby’s brother doing it last year when he was 17).

I agree that parents have to protect their children as much as possible, I just don’t think they weren’t protecting her. There is a difference in my opinion when the person is trained for it and when they are not. That goes for anything in life. I would not base my decision of my child’s capabilities solely on his age. Instead, I would look at his experience in that area, his maturity level, and my confidence that he could handle what he was doing. If I felt he was able to do something, I would let him do it.

gemiwing's avatar

I doubt you’re alone- but I’m disagreeing with you.

She’s 16— that’s legally old enough to consent to marriage in some states. Old enough to drink in some countries.

She’s not a giggly ‘hee hee I love boys!’ teenager who hasn’t ever set foot on a boat before. She’s had training, experience and did exactly the right thing when the situation went sour. I’d say they’ve done a damn fine job of raising her. It’s also not like they shoved her on a leaky raft, tossed her a signal flare and said ‘good luck!’.

There are parents who beat their children for burping, parents who refuse their children food when they misbehave, parents who do unspeakable things. Letting your child fulfill her dream while doing everything you can as a parent to insure their safety- yet knowing eventually you have to let go and trust that you’ve done the best you can sounds a damn sight better and nowhere near close to abuse to me.

I don’t know the family personally so I can’t speak to ‘forcing her’ to do anything. In my experience trying to get a teenager to clean their room is monumental- I can’t imagine forcing her to sail around the World.

john65pennington's avatar

My whole point was the encouragement from her parents. a single 16 year old juvenile girl alone out in the open sea appears to be a strong contributing factor. she may have had emergency radio equipment, she may have had flares and life jackets, but who is going to protect her safety when a boatload of criminals attack her out in the open ocean? at best, help would be at least two hours arriving, if she were still alive. you cannot say this would not happen, because it has.

deni's avatar

she has balls for doing it and they have balls for thinking that maybe real life experience can compare to sitting in a classroom and not learning anything most days anyhow. yeah it was maybe not the most rational and responsible decision they’ve ever made and i’m sure they’ll never hear the end of it…but she has one hell of a story to tell.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@john65pennington And what’s to stop a single criminal from abducting her from the mall with her friends? Things happen that are beyond our control sometimes. That does not mean we should live in fear of those things.

I read in one of the stories that she went as far south in the Indian Ocean as she did to avoid the pirates that are in the northern part of the Indian Ocean. They took as many precautions as they could without just not doing it out of fear.

john65pennington's avatar

denj, i agree on her story to tell. would you let your 16 year old daughter make this trip? not me.

gemiwing's avatar

As a girl growing up in the city and the country- I can tell you I’d rather take my chances on running into one boat of criminals in billions of miles of ocean than the fight I had every day while walking home from school in ‘safe’ neighborhoods.

Scary as it is- we really have very little control over what life will throw at our children.

john65pennington's avatar

Seaofclouds, the mall is on solid ground, the ocean is very dark, deep and wet. big difference.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@john65pennington Yes the mall is on solid ground, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t dangers on ground that are just as bad. Criminals are every where and could attack any of us at any time, wether we are on land or in the water.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Why do I have a feeling that the people who think the parents should be arrested wouldn’t be saying anything if she was a male?

john65pennington's avatar

Seaoflouds, i, above all, realize what you are saying and again, i agree. generally, on solid ground, help is just a 911 call away. out in the ocean, you are on your own.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@john65pennington Yes, but that is something they knew before taking the risk. I don’t think we should ever hold off on doing something we really want to do just based on fear.

john65pennington's avatar

DrasticDreamer, this case applies to each gender.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@john65pennington Then do you think her parents should also be arrested for allowing her brother, Zac to do the same thing last year? Or what about Jessica Watson, the 16-year-old from Australia that just finished doing the same thing? They didn’t get as much attention because things went better for them, but does that mean their parents weren’t protecting them and that they need to be arrested too?

john65pennington's avatar

Seaofclouds, its not really fear that i questioned. its the reality of a parent allowing their minor daughter to sail alone in the open seas, just to set a record. could she at least have had another person on her boat? if she had waited until she was 18, the public would probably have accepted her sailing adventure much more, than being a minor and being encouraged by her parents.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@john65pennington Her dream was to set the record for doing it solo. If she had someone else, that would have made that not happen. She was actually not in the running for setting the record anymore because she stopped in Africa. She then made the decision that she wanted to finish what she started.

Why shouldn’t we encourage our children to fulfill their dreams and go for something when they’ve worked hard for it. I think that is exactly what parents should do. As a parent, we have to weigh the risks vs the benefits. Obviously the benefits outweighed the risks in their opinions and that is what matters. I don’t think they were trying to harm her in any way, so they shouldn’t be arrested.

john65pennington's avatar

Seaofclouds, i agree that her brothers situation was no different, other than one years age difference. her brother was not in trouble on the ocean and yes, his parents should have been arrested, then. i am at a complete loss as to why parents feel that their minor children must set some kind of world record, out on the ocean. these are not good parenting skills and it sets a bad example for other minors to follow.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@john65pennington Why is it bad parenting to say that our children cannot do something just because of their age? I honestly don’t think the parents are the ones that said their children had to set a world record. I think their children decided they wanted to do so, so instead of saying no you can’t, they encouraged them and helped them prepare for it as best they could.

john65pennington's avatar

Goodnight all. thanks for your answers and opinions. all of us may not agree on the same answers, but at least we still have our own private opinions and i thank you for sharing them with me.

Pandora's avatar

I think its reckless endangerment of a minor. How can we expect the law to protect a 17 year old from adults purchasing liquor for a minor yet, throw our hands up and say mommy and daddy have the right to allow a 16 year old to travel dangerous waters alone. I think its just a matter of a set of parents who glorify so much in the fact that their child can win a trophy or fame some way that they don’t care to bother to be a parent and just say no.
That being said, the same can be said I guess for high school football or skiing dangerous slopes for the olympics or jumping off high boards, comming so close to smashing their heads on the board or breaking there necks in a fall or gymnastics. I never understood how a parent can sit and watch a child under the age of 18 do all those things and take all those risks for fame.
For 15 minutes of fame. Your a big deal for a little while until you are no longer the fastest or set the record. There will always be someone to come along and take it all away. Meanwhile after the victory lap, you body is either used up and injured but most of all in the end you risk your life for the applause. I didn’t get Houdini either. I don’t get or understand wanting any type of trophy so bad that you will risk your life.

zenele's avatar

Good thing this is in social:

Parents have three responsibilities, when they bare children. 1. a roof over their heads, 2. food on the table, 3. their children’s safety and educationit appears that Abbey Sunderlands parents have failed by not providing safety for their 16 year old juvenile daughter

1. Bear – or else they make them naked (bare)

2. Nor a roof over her head. So that’s 2 things they didn’t provide. It is an education, though, in their defense.

Just saying.

I do agree with you though. GQ!

Nullo's avatar

Nope. Coddling children isn’t any good. They didn’t force her to make her trip, and they taught her to handle the responsibilities of a solo sailor.

Silhouette's avatar

We turn our 16 year old children loose in cars everyday and it’s dangerous, very dangerous, some never make it home.

This could have ended badly, every time someone gets behind the wheel it could end badly. Every time a kid rides a skateboard it could end badly.

No I don’t think her parents should be arrested. I don’t know their child, her mind may be developed enough to handle this situation, in fact, sounds like she handled it just fine.

Would I let my sixteen year old sail around the world alone? I don’t know, it was hard enough for me to let my 18 year old go off to Europe alone.

john65pennington's avatar

Nullo, this is just my point, they did not force her to make the trip, yet they did not stop her. she is a minor, not an adult. its the parents responsibility to protect their children in unsafe events and they did not.

Zenele, sorry about the typo. it was late and i was in a hurry. thanks. bear not bare.

syz's avatar

I have to admit, if it were my child, I probably wouldn’t have allowed it. Do I think they should be “arrested”? Hell no.

But @john65pennington, just out of curiosity, you haven’t mentioned her brother that did the same thing at 17. Please tell me that you don’t feel that this case is different because she’s a girl?

DeanV's avatar

@DrasticDreamer Excellent point. Nobody said anything when her 17 year old brother did this same voyage, keep in mind.

tinyfaery's avatar

Oh, sure. Lock up parents who give their daughter love and trust, allow to experience life as few people ever will, give her a good education and teach her to think on her own. They should be in the same jail cell as abusers and molesters. Yup.

jerv's avatar

@john65pennington Nowadays, you are considered a minor until you are in your late 20s. Sure, an 18 year old can vote and can die for their country, but they cannot drink or be treated as an adult.

We are turning everybody into children. Look at how many adults are no longer able to accept responsibility for their actions because because they were treated as children for so damned long! Now we have 35-year-old children, and I’m sure you’ve had a few in the back seat of your cruiser.

So, how long do you want to keep kids on a leash? How long do you want parents to be held accountable?

As usual, John, you and I are likely to disagree on this one no matter what the other one says, so I will just leave it there and tell you to enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

As irresponsible as I think these parents are, I don’t feel they should be arrested. I do feel they should pay all costs involved in their daughter’s rescue though.

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