PARENTS

Authorities Bid To Stop Teenager's Solo Sailing Adventure

31/08/2009 09:13 | Updated 22 May 2015

A couple supporting their 13-year-old daughter's bid to sail solo around the world now face a battle with the authorities who want temporary custody of the teen.

The Dutch Council for Child Protection is so against Laura Dekker's plan that it has asked for temporary custody of the teenager to stop her making the trip, something her parents have refused to do.

The authorities believe her bid stems from her parents' divorce: she lives with her Dutch father who is divorced from her German mother, who did not attend the court hearing.Child Protection spokesman Richard Bakker told the Associated Press that it was normal for children of divorced parents to become very loyal to the one they lived with.

"How much does she identify herself with her father, who is a good sailor?" he asked.

Although the teenager is an experienced sailor, and was even born during a round-the-world voyage, experts believe she is too young to attempt such a risky venture.

Micha de Winter, a child psychology professor at Utrecht University said: "A 13-year-old girl is in the middle of her development and you don't do that alone - you need peers and adults."

There are also worries about, psychological damage from spending long periods alone at sea, navigational errors, weather crises and danger posed by pirates.

Thanks to the court hearing, a debate has now opened in the Netherlands about "super children" and their ambitious parents.

The youngest person to sail solo around the world is 17-year-old Californian Zac Sunderland. He completed the 28,000 mile journey in just over a year but admitted to Associated Press that he had to call the Australian authorities for help after being tracked by pirates.

His record looks likely to be smashed by British teenager Mike Perham, also 17, who is due to sail into the record books today.

The Guinness Book of World Records, however, does not encourage such risky record breaking attempts by children.

"(We have) a standard policy that does not sanction, endorse or encourage attempts by minors (people under the age of 16) on records which are dangerous or potentially life-threatening," Guinness spokesman Damian Field told the Associated Press.

Do you think the Dutch government is right to apply for temporary custody of Laura? Or do you think it is over-reacting?

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