There are many sites out there reflecting on the Laura Dekker issues – this is one. Myself – I admit to being in two minds:
1. She was probably too young at 13 for that particular voyage and certainly in that smaller boat. That her father thought it OK was a worry. Letting her cross to the UK on her own showed faith in her and she did it – she is precocious – but still …
2. Having said that, is it the right of the State to prevent her? Should there exist a situation where the parents’ rights are paramount in law and if they decide this or that course for their child, then so be it?
3. On the other hand, we have the rise of the irresponsible parent in the last 15 years or so, many who are in no position to parent. Need the child be protected then, especially in the light of the current sensitivity to State intrusion? I mean – should the State step in in the case of incest?
4. Is this bad parenting one spinoff from the deterioration of society and has this been deliberate – the aim being to maximize State control?
5. She was going without trauma preparation, e.g. sleep deprivation techniques of control, plus a first aid course – these were probably necessary.
6. The Dutch authorities are unrepentant and on the grounds that she did not keep all her schoolwork up, threatened the father and when he refused to turn up for a hearing a couple of weeks back apparently, he might have been incarcerated. Their grounds were that she hasn’t done enough schoolwork.
7. Though that seems way OTT, there is an education system in Holland which involves a giant exam in the final year and all previous years lead to that. The law also says children remain at school until 16. She was given dispensation, provided she fulfilled her side – keeping up with the school tasks.
8. Her lawyer argues that there were times on a round the world voyage where it was impossible – lack of sleep and dangerous conditions took all her attention. That she had a grand time onshore, going everywhere, did not escape Dutch attention.
9. She feels traumatized by the Dutch attitude which seems way OTT – the little tin-god syndrome of the public sector, particularly in social services. I’d say that though she is spoilt and headstrong, she may also actually be traumatized by what happened. She says she was in constant fear of being kidnapped by State officers. Not nice at 13/14.
10. Technically, with the level of support she had on the water, she was quite capable of sailing the route. As a real sailor, instead of the kid sister of one, she knew where and when she could go.
12. Is she now beyond her parents in wanting to sail down and live there by herself? She was born there and it’s a sailing country. Whose responsibility is she actually?
There are no doubt other questions.