Friday, June 11, 2010

Abuse Is Abuse

Federal legislation provides an identifying a set of acts or behaviors that define child abuse and neglect. The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (42 U.S.C.A. §5106g), as amended by the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003, defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum --
  • Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or
  • An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.
This definition of child abuse and neglect refers specifically to parents and other caregivers. A "child" under this definition generally means a person who is under the age of 18 or who is not an emancipated minor.
 How is allowing a sixteen year old child to sail alone around the world anything except abuse?  Abby Sunderland wanted to sail alone around the world and so her parents waved bon voyage.  I mean, come on, her brother did it when he was seventeen and he's still alive.  Before she began her journey way back in January, according to today's Los Angeles Times, Abby said that her parents had tried to 'scare me out of it'.   By doing what, I ask the world.
Here's something they might have considered saying -- "No!  You want to sail alone around the world, get a job, save your money, and the day you turn eighteen you can set sail around the world or around the block because you will on that day be legally an adult."
Might this be considered a parental act which placed a child in danger?  Might this also be considered just a tad exploitative?
 Joel Achenbach writes the Achenblog for the Washington Post and has this to say about Abby Sunderland's parents:
Pondering the rescue of the teen sailor Abby Sunderland, who was attempting to sail solo around the world, my first thought is that I barely trust my girls to operate a blender. I will let one of my kids sail solo around the world the day I let my ancient cat Phoebe drive my Honda.
Let's do the checklist of yes/no/maybe when it comes to teenage daughters:
1. Use the oven. Yes, with advance warnings about burning down of house.
2. Ride bike to video store. Yes, with stern commandments involving helmet, looking both ways, returning before dark, and avoidance of slasher movies.
3. Go to "mixer" at distant preppie-sounding school full of rich kids. Depends on parental mood and results of protracted interrogation about who will be there and what will be the purpose and why it's not more fun to hang out at home with Dad.
4. Go to what sounds like a teenybopper concert. Yes, but only after obligatory dismissive comments on quality of music from parent (followed by parental discovery later that it's actually a Metallica concert).
5. Talk to boys loitering on sidewalk. Yes, but only if boys agree to play catch with Dad first and then watch ballgame with him in brotherly solidarity against tyranny of the matriarchy.
6. Drive car. Yes, but only if Dad can keep hand on emergency brake at all times.
7. Wear that dress. No.
8. Wear those shorts. No.
9. Discuss rules with Dad. No.
10. Roll eyes and sigh dramatically as Dad speaks. No.
So you see, there's just nothing in there about "sail solo around the world." I mean, as I understand it, Abby Sunderland was doing this whole thing in some kind of BOAT. Like, on the ocean. Right? Insane.
I bet she didn't even wear a helmet.
By Joel Achenbach  |  June 11, 2010; 12:47 PM ET

 Each day Departments of Children and Family Services throughout the country investigate reports of sucpected child abuse.
These parents are not heroes and neither are their children.  This is plain and simple child abuse and Abby's parents should be investigated as quickly and as thoroughly as the South Central mother who left her children alone in the house while she worked to earn just almost enough money to feed them.

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