“My Boat Is on the Shore, and My Bark Is on the Sea”
Laura Dekker isn’t the only teen whose government is trying to prevent her from achieving her sailing goals. Jessica Watson of Australia also faces state interference, and she’s 16 years old — not exactly a helpless child. In Watson’s case, however, the rule of law is getting in the way of officials’ efforts to save her from herself:
A spokeswoman for Child Safety Minister Phil Reeves said yesterday there was no trigger for intervention because child protection laws had been written to protect children who were either being abused or neglected rather than taking solo sailing trips […]
A police spokeswoman said as long as Ms Watson had a valid licence and her boat met safety regulations, they could not intervene.
It turns out that child welfare laws are useful when fighting abuse and neglect, which the laws were written to combat, but not when trying to prevent sailing trips, which the laws weren’t intended to do. And impartial license policies aren’t much good when you want to stop one particular person from sailing.
It’s too bad Laura Dekker and Jessica Watson can’t team up and make the trip together. I guess that wouldn’t satisfy them, though, because each wants to do it solo. But at least it would reassure everyone that they’d have someone to socialize with on the journey, and they already face obstacles in common.