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Adolescents and adventure: How much is too much?
June 11th, 2010
02:12 PM ET

Adolescents and adventure: How much is too much?

The fact that Sutherland has been located is cause for celebration, but the concern and activity surrounding the search for a teenager allowed to sail alone across oceans brought this question to many people’s minds: Is this a good idea?

The answer: well, it depends
"Adolescents vary tremendously in regards to their judgment, maturity and the risks that they face in life," says Frederic Reamer, a professor of social work at Rhode Island College and a member of the National Association of Social Workers. "There are circumstances in parenting where virtually everyone would agree… and then there are circumstances like this where reasonable, thoughtful minds can differ tremendously," he says.

Abby Sunderland is not the first adolescent to embark on such a quest. And Reamer says children who complete these tasks can benefit from “a strong sense of accomplishment, competence and remarkable satisfaction,” and parents should not stifle their teen if they feel their child is mature and demonstrates good judgment.

In an interview with CNN shortly before her daughter set off on the around-the-world adventure, Sutherland’s mother, Marianne, did express concern over how her daughter would handle loneliness, but also said she felt Abby could handle the challenge. "The critics don't know Abby and what a good sailor she is. We know it's a risk, but also that with the right equipment and preparation, it's a very calculated risk”, she told CNN’s Anouk Lorie.

Others say hold on a minute
“I think its wonderful she wanted to take this on, but when you're responsible for helping a child to develop, you are gradually increasing the risk in their life,” says Jill Weber, a clinical psychologist in the Washington, D.C.,  area, and a member of the American Psychological Association. “In this case, it sounds a lot like allowing a toddler to walk himself to school.” Weber encourages parents to consider everything their children come to them with, but only within boundaries.

Dr. Suniya Luthar, a professor of psychology whose research at the Teachers College of Columbia University focuses on children of privilege, says the cultural context of American society often encourages parents to say “yes” to situations that could lead to harmful outcomes for their child. “There is this feeling that more is always better, and the more you can do and accomplish the better. But there needs to be limits,” she said in a phone conversation. “Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you necessarily should.”

Studies looking at the teenage brain show that adolescent brains are different from adults, and that certain areas impacting judgment may not be fully developed until they are in their twenties. Weber says the fact that the teenage brain is not developed, can put childredn at increased risk of being traumatized in dangerous situations. “If you're suddenly flooded by fear, that's when the frontal lobe needs to kick in, but for adolescents, it may not.”

A spokesperson from US Sail, the national governing body of sailing, says there are no age limits on an when a person is too young or too old to sail, but the most important thing is to be aware of safety requirements . "We’re happy that Abby is safe, and the fact that she was able to maintain herself in these conditions demonstrates she had a firm grasp of the guidelines."

In comments to CNN before her departure, Sutherland demonstrated a keen awareness of the challenges she could face.

“I know there is a possibility I could die. People die at sea all the time,” she admitted in the interview, adding “It's kind of terrifying to think about. But it is those thoughts that will keep me safe as they'll make me very careful.”


soundoff (277 Responses)
  1. Chuck

    Go for it!

    Climb a mountain. Sail a sea. Do something not done before.

    She's got more skills, experience and maturity than most adults. A smart, physically fit and competent individual, unlike the majority of today's youth.

    June 13, 2010 at 09:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Phil Muse

    May I remind readers that Ernest Shackleton, the greatest of Antarctic explorers, was apprenticed "before the mast" when he was just 16, and that both John Paul Jones and the future Lord Horatio Nelson had command at sea when they were only 20? The connection between the spirit of youth and the lure of seafaring has been well documented over the centuries. In Abby Sunderland's case, she showed remarkably cool judgment and had the further advantage (which Shackleton, Jones and Nelson did not enjoy) of growing up in a family with a tradition of handling sail boats and a healthy respect for the sea.

    June 13, 2010 at 09:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. april

    You people are ridiculous. I have to remind you that not all American teenagers are lazy stupid irresponsible immature fools. Some parents actually teach their kids how to be adults. In previous era's of our history, a 16-year-old girl was capable of planting/harvesting, making flour/bread, spinning cotton into clothes, making medicine, cooking, making baskets and other tools, defending the home with a firearm, and many other skills most adults can't do today. She probably would have been married and raising her own family by now. And it's likely she would have behaved with more maturity than I have seen displayed on this forum. My point is that you no nothing about this woman except her age. Do not assume she's as immature as YOUR kid.

    June 13, 2010 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Reality Check

    Sixteen is not too young to be tried as an adult but too young to make the decision to sail around the world alone. What is it folks, at sixteen you have the ability to plan and commit a crime the same as an adult, but not to sail around the world alone? Our society extends childhood way too long and then wonders why American kids won't leave the nest.

    June 13, 2010 at 10:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RobJ

    I think the parents know their child. What they choose to allow is their business. It appears they have done a very fine job raising their children and I wish more parents could do better. I look around this hive of the Internet and see lackluster people with no guts or glory in them screaming for a govt take over of a 16year old like it's a 4 year old. I say Butt Out! CPS is not designed to "protect" ambitious children. The complainers are the types who waved to wagon trains as they drove out to the unknown. Gutless wonders of the world crawl back to your holes. These are great parents raising exceptional people. I wish their were more like them.

    June 13, 2010 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. jimc

    Years of experience doing anything can be enough to allow a 16 year old sail around the world. However, in this case sailing in high winds and rough seas were not included in Abbys experience apparently. If she was experienced like Mike Perham and Jessica Watson then she would have dropped her mainsail and gone with a small storm jib to stay in control. Most likely the wet mainsail was too much for the mast to handle and it simply came down. Her brother Zac had a similar experience in dealing with high winds and broke his boom.

    Sailing in Southern California is a completely different experience than the southern oceans.

    Perhaps Abby and her parents should think of thanking her rescuers and paying for their services before another attempt is made. Payment should be made even if it is not required. Didn't her father state that her life was priceless? Lets see if he pays the price. doubt it!

    June 13, 2010 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. paterick

    at 16 girls and boys can walk in a wallmart parking lot! amoung the thieves, rapists and murders that lurk there. at 14 in most states they can drive a motor scooter and did i mention bicycle amoung trucks carrying 60,000lbs, fast moving cars which may be driven by a thief, robber rappist..... or go to the beach and swim amoung the sharks
    heck i have even seen some Walk to school! how daring! i think if i saw a parent agreeing to let thier child put on a blind fold and try and dart across the freeway then i think someone should step in.

    i think this blog points out the different natures of folks and why not everyone would venture more than 20 miles from thier home much less set out to expore the world. but face it we need them as much as they need us to stay and cheer, worry or just critize and judge. it all adds to the drama of life. can you imagine what it would be like other wise or with those who adventure and explore? Headlines: the wind blew open the front door of 2213 quiet street. the residents were shocked and surprised. two plates were dropped by the owners wife and the husband strained his neck when he turned to see the event!

    June 13, 2010 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Carolae

    When this story first posted, I added my comments; however, never thought of the expense it would cost for them to get to her. Is the country and/or people who rescued her going to submit a bill and if they do, is the good old USofA going to pay it? Don't think so....the parents should be held accountable for this. Probably her sponsors will foot the bill. Some people commented that it was her decision to do this...she knew the risks; however, still can't believe a parent would agree to this. Instead of sitting back and worrying every day whether something terrible is going to happen, they were lapping up the attention their daughter was getting. They could have very easily been planning a funeral instead of rejoicing that she was fine. These are parents that are putting themselves first no matter what the daughter says she is capable of. Believe me, if she had died, it would have been a different story; however, the tears they would have shed, if any, would not even mattered to anyone.

    June 13, 2010 at 11:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. springfieldmo

    It's interesting on how quickly people are commenting how CPS should be called. It's ridiculous! Are these people abusing their children? Perhaps in your mind by letting their daughter do this journey you consider it neglect or "endangering their child". But you are NOT her parents. It's like being in a Walmart and your child acting up but your afraid of discipling the kid because someone in the store might take offense and say your being abusive to your child. THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ABUSE OR NEGLECT OF CHILD AND STANDARD DISCIPLINE! WAKE UP!

    June 13, 2010 at 11:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Krystyna

    I'm with the guy who says that the one decision that Abby's team made that was suspect, was to allow her to go through that part of the ocean during this particular time of year, which as many sailors know, is the absolutely WORST time of the year to go through there. I don't have a problem with the girl being 16 & it's obvious that she is highly competent as a sailor. But, when her parents saw that her schedule was going to put her going through the "roaring 40's" in June, they should have ixnayed the trip entirely.

    June 13, 2010 at 12:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Ugh

    We're talking about whether or not Abby's brain is fully developed. I wonder if the parent's brains are.

    June 13, 2010 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. RodRoderick

    Being totally honest, the more you dig into this, the more grey the matter becomes. My first thought was, "God, we have all these pirates around the world. The skin trade is a very real, scary thing. She could have fell a fate worse than death. But if you look at it from the law aspect, if her parents felt she was capable, it was their Right – their Liberty to say "My child can do this". A 16 year by law cannot only drive a car but they can: fly a plane, get married, emancipate themselves from their parents, just to name a few.

    My biggest frustration here is I still believe with the weight of risk, this family should have had a second vessel off in the distance. They could have only kept radio contact and she would have still done it "Solo". It would have been a wise safety precaution to have taken. But then I’m also a firm believer in chaperones up to the age of 18 (and personally knowing those “chaperones”).

    June 13, 2010 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Mark

    Madmad makes a superlative point...

    Irresponsible, reckless. The sea will be there when she puts on 10 more years of experience sailing. This was purely about a record. An "expert" sailor would not have run the sails in the high winds – which resulted in tearing and dismasting. It was ignorance of conditions to set a record at all costs. This could have been far worse. They are just fortunate she was found. Imagine a pirate incident, drowning, or "lost at sea and never found" scenario. How the comments from the supporters would change...

    June 13, 2010 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Bill

    These parents should be arrested for child neglect, and throw away the key.

    June 13, 2010 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. PJ

    I hope her parents are charged for all the search and find costs associated with this. I would also like to see the parents charged with child abuse for allowing her to make such a trip. She ain't a hero to me – just a foolish little girl who caused a lot of work for people looking for her. If she does it again, I would like to see her sleep with the fishes so to speak.

    June 13, 2010 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Dianne Langefeld

    My husband and I have no problem with a sixteen year old trying to set a record, but we do believe the parents should pay for the rescue efforts in total. Sending a Quantas Airbus 2000 miles from Perth is not cheap and then asking a fishing boat to go 24 hours out of it's way to pick her up is just as disturbing as they are out there fishing to make a living not to do rescue work.

    We would like to ask Abby's parents to pay for the total search and rescue efforts put in on behalf of their daughter...it seems the only fair way to honor the rescurers and their daughter.

    June 13, 2010 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Shawna

    Some parents need to just chill. The role of the parent is to nurture and encourage their children to become independent functional adults. We let kids under 16 years old have babies of their own, but taking a risk to sail around the world is outrageous? Seriously? I would bet that the parents bulking the most about these parents letting their daughter take this adventure are the parents wondering why their late 20s age children can't get out of the folk's house. If you don't let your children walk, you can't have only yourself to blame when they never go anywhere.

    June 13, 2010 at 14:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Todd

    My only issue with teens (under 18) taking on challenges like this is that they fully understand what the risks are and are fully prepared to execute the challenge in a safe manner and one that is respectful of the sport. With that said, I do have a problem with many of the other comments bashing the parents for letting this happen and placing Abby in a general category of teen maturity that she obviously doesn't belong in. In fact, I would say she handled her trip better than most "adults". I've known many teenagers over the years that matured quickly – some would call them "old souls" – and could take on adult levels of responsibility with no concerns. Now does that mean that because they can handle it, they should handle it? I can't answer that and neither can anyone else posting here. That's a decision that is as unique as the individual being assessed.

    What I can say is that individuals like Abby, capable of that level of responsibility at such a young age, should be guided to excel at whatever they attempt within the level of risk that is manageable for the task they are attempting. This doesn't mean condoning a challenge simply for the "stunt" aspect which Abby's challenge is on the verge of because of the record she was attempting to break.

    As for who is going to pay for the rescue? I absolutely believe that the family is responsible for paying for all charges incurred for the rescue. This goes back to responsibility. If you are going to try a stunt like this and need help, it can't be for free. You may have signed on for the challenge, but the rest of us didn't and shouldn't be asked to foot the bill when it goes wrong.

    June 13, 2010 at 15:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Linda

    Allowing your sixtreen year old to sail around the world solo is shear neglect. Don't these people have any common sense? I will not refer to them as parents because real parents would not allow their children to perform such a dangerous act. The only thing that I see here is attention seekers nothing more. These people should be charged for allowing their child to attempt such a dangerous stunt. Don't they love their child? What does sailing around the world solo prove any way? Performing a good deed for someone is far greater than bragging about ones defeat. I am glad to hear that the girl is ok.

    June 13, 2010 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Chuck

    CPS should be called in on all the parents allowing/encouraging their offspring to grow up overweight, obese, diabetic and dumb.

    My hat is off to Abby and her parents.

    June 13, 2010 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Rhode Island sailor

    The picture of her sailboat shows the mast with the sail trailing the boat. In those conditions, the sail should never have been up. Also, she took the southern route; it would have been much safer to go north, near India & Sri Lanka, but wanted the southern route because it was shorter. An experience sailor would have known the difference.

    June 13, 2010 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Candid One

    It's key to note the second section of this article; it says, "The answer: well, it depends". We don't live is a "no risk" world. Whenever we allow our teenagers to leave the house, they're going into a risky environment. That we ignore or deny that reality is about our self-management because much of that fact is beyond our control. We can only do our best to have them ready for that "adventure". Much of the anxiety over this one notorious incident is a welling up of that suppressed, continual uneasiness about natural loss of parental control, of letting go. That's not an issue that should be under-appreciated; it's actually unbelievably tough.

    June 13, 2010 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. jim

    Wow what posts I'm reading here. If you look at the facts, it looks like the girl acted very reasonably. I think when the facts are looked at, it shows her maturity and that this was a good idea.

    But reading some of these posts....some of these people really don't know what they are talking about. You can't assume that all teens are alike and that all parents are alike. These posts show how backward and stupid some Americans really are. And how ready they are to viciously attack and say bad things about good people.

    June 13, 2010 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. max

    i must admit i am impressed with the strong will, ambition, and both the mental and physical strength this 16 year old girl has. i love the support that the family gives. but i must say, a 16 year old girl ( or boy) should not be allowed to go about it alone. the whole family claims to be sailors... someone should have been with her. this was a dangerous mission and if pirates got a hold of her, well, this would have been a nightmare come true for the family. i also think the family should fork over the cost of rescue. supporting your kids is one thing, being advanced for your age is fantastic, but this just reeks of bad idea.

    June 13, 2010 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. James Whedbee

    Dear Friends and Fellow Citizens:

    The premise of our present question about this young lady sailing around the world is that, perhaps, she was too young to make the journey safely and that her parents should have stopped her. Depending on the training, qualifications, experiences, and judgment of the teen, and with the consent of his or her parents, it may be better for a teen to risk such adventures than an adult. I suspect Ms. Sunderland is a better sailor than half the adults with sailboats!

    My reasons for suggesting this are twofold. First, any person (teen or adult) who is determined to achieve a dream shall do it regardless of public opinion or risk. Second, teens often are not faced with the day-to-day responsibilities and duties adults owe to children, creditors, and each other: given that freedom from paying bills, raising children, and caring for another family member, a teen may be better positioned to try and fail (or try and succeed) at achieving a dream than an adult with similar qualifications. My final argument is this: in youth, we are physically more capable of withstanding austere conditions than in midlife or old age; accordingly, from a purely physical standpoint, Abby may be better able to sail around the world than an elder.

    Let's face it: an adult of forty years who 'falls on their face' in life isn't going to recover financially, physically, or emotionally as well or as easily as a sixteen year old! Given these reasons, I hope we don't judge anybody too harshly here. Moreover, if this is a sincerely-held dream, who are we to stand in the way of its achievement? Be grateful that this young woman is OK and returning to her family. Be hopeful that in her pursuit of this dream, if it is an unrelenting one, that she achieves it successfully and safely in the future.

    Best wishes,

    James E. Whedbee

    June 13, 2010 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. al

    Time to buy another 40' yacht for daddy's little girl so another nation can waste their time and money plucking her out of the water. Why worry about anything else when it's only the ego of a 16 year old and her father that matters.

    June 13, 2010 at 17:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Jen

    Shocked at the number of people who are clamoring "Call CPS!", What makes you think the government is any better at raising your children than you are? Personally, I would have told my kid, "You can do it when you're eighteen," but that's my family and my business. I'm always amazed that people think it's okay to tell other people how they should live. Back off, everybody.

    June 13, 2010 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Opa

    Foolish and selfish people risk their lives to climb a dangerous mountain or solo sail around the world; and, when they get in trouble, they expect people to stop everything and risk their own lives and their nation's resources to save them. The cost in time, energy and money is selfish and unfair. These parents shouldn't have let a 16-year-old go on this kind of adventure alone. A young woman alone is a target for violence. Her irresponsible parents were relived that their daughter was found alive drifting in a remote area of the Indian Ocean. In the meantime, ships were diverted and countries used their manpower and time to find her. All because of letting her have an adventure and to set a record. How noble of them.

    June 13, 2010 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Rolland Vasin

    Time was in California when the legal age to drive farm machinery on the public roads was 16. I was one of those drivers. Get over it!

    June 13, 2010 at 17:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Sascha

    Are her parents ponying up for the cost of rescue?

    June 13, 2010 at 17:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Sascha

    Are her parents ponying up for the cost of the rescue? They SHOULD!!

    June 13, 2010 at 17:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. VascoDaGama

    Amazing Abby! Freedom and challenge at its best!!!

    June 13, 2010 at 17:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Jane L

    She had no business being out there alone! She is 16 years old! She is still a child. She may be smart , she may have determination but she is still a minor. Her parents should have sailed with her. This could have turned out really bad, what if pirates came or just plain jerks, how would she defend her self? Get real people, she is still a child!

    June 13, 2010 at 17:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. miss thang

    Her parents should be tarred and feathered.

    June 13, 2010 at 18:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Dr. Ron Deth

    Why was this girl off sailing around the world during the school year anyway? There is no way she is being tutored or studying online while out in the middles of the world's oceans.

    June 13, 2010 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Teenage Sailor

    Lightening can strike anywhere – should we call CPS if parents let their kids outside when there are clouds in the sky?

    The Sunderlands are not naive sailors. Quite the contrary, they are blue water sailors which requires a lot more skill and preparation than the weekend sailor at the lake or marina Look,. Abbey reached the Indian Ocean all by herself and if not for a rogue wave, we'd still be reading her blog updates from Wild Eyes.

    The vast majority of us have no idea what it takes to sail across a lake let alone an ocean. Can we say the risk to life on a sailboat is any less or more than a trip through a busy intersection? Please, give her a ton of credit for acquiring the skills, putting in time on boats to build her confidence, and, most importantly, displaying the kind of decision making that allowed (seduced?) her parents to watch her sail off.

    If Mom has anything to say, and I think we are all betting the house she's had a lot to say behind closed doors, it was the decision that put her daughter in the remotest seas during their worst weather of the year. At 16 or any age, that choice was lacking wisdom. Hopefully, all of the Sunderlands can live easily with how close they came to killing their daughter.

    Finally, my deepest respects to the French sailors/fisherman who rescued her. Thank you for your sense of duty and courage.

    June 13, 2010 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Barbara

    I agree with Mike. If you people would listen to the news carefully, you would have gotten that her family does this type of thing. To me she is a mature 16 and has made great choices while at sea. There is nothing that dictates that CPS needs to enter into the picture. You need to pay attention and listen and read carefully. That is what is wrong with society today. They are quick to condemn, but slow to learn.

    June 13, 2010 at 18:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. ct

    Do people realize how many 16 year olds are killed in car accidents every year. Should we make sure they never drive? For that matter how many are beaten up or killed simply going to school. Let's just keep them home ok? Long ago I'm sure many of the explorers were 16 or even younger. Plus she was doing perfectly fine for a long time, and now all these people come out of the woodwork complaining. Give the parents a break, you don't know them and you don't know the girl. Worry about your own life, and get off the computer and do some exploring yourself. Then you can come back with all of your judgments and speculation.

    June 13, 2010 at 19:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. TexEcon

    Some input from several of the sailing blogs:
    1. Incredible accomplishment for a 16 year old.
    2. Parents are absolutely nuts to have let her do this (for reasons, see following).
    3. A study of Abby's blog and her website suggest this was a stunt on par with "Balloon Boy" though much better marketed. The campaign to "Save Wild Eyes" is probably a scam; that boat is not worth the cost of the fuel to tow it anywhere so don't expect any salvors to go looking for it.
    4. Abby's lack of appreciation for her rescuers is appalling (see her first blog from the French fishing vessel).
    5. She was incredibly lucky with the weather until - yes, winter in the Indian Ocean. General consensus among the sailing bloggers is that this was nuts to go into the Indian Ocean at this time of year with her limited skill set.
    6. Her seamanship skills were questionable. When the rig went over the side, she did not cut it away to protect the hull but got on the phone and called Daddy. No drogue was deployed and she did not otherwise make the boat functionable. Also, she apparently was often on the satphone (hence her continually low batteries) getting instructions from her shore crew.
    7. If she tries this again without more training and experience she will die.

    June 13, 2010 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. sailor di

    As a sailor, I personally admire this kid. But, as a mother, I can't go there. I just don't believe 16 yr olds have enough life experience (JUDGEMENT) to handle the decisions that may need to be made. I totally agree storms are part of the Indian Ocean but my GOD, enough with these wild acts??? Can they REALLY KNOW at that age what they are getting into??? I've had 2 16 yr old girls and they are GOOD sailors (now in their 20's cruising) but at 16???? They were still calling me on the radio for lots of things!!!

    June 13, 2010 at 19:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. gretchen

    fr chapmannews:

    >...In the 1800s, teenagers (well, boys, in almost all cases) were regularly working or in service aboard ships as sailors and midshipmen – sometimes as young as 13 or 14 years old. In the case of the midshipmen, who were officers, they were often put in leadership positions or forced into leadership in war situations. ...<

    But they were NOT sailing by themselves. There is a huge difference in letting some 16 year old go blithely off by themselves and having someone work alongside of adults sailing or whatever.

    Abby's parents were extremely irresponsible in letting their daughter do this. She's darn lucky to be alive.

    June 13, 2010 at 20:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. scuba steve

    Everyone has an opinion. 16 is not old enough to make wise decisions..period. I think it is just ridiculous and this is getting way to much attention, her parents should be fined and prosecuted somehow. People should really be smarter about these things. Is it really worth it? People shouldn't need that much feeling of accomplishment, they should get that feeling at all there accomplishments especially by their parents. They shouldn't have to prove anything like this. This is just pure stupidity.

    June 13, 2010 at 20:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. david karlin

    when jimmy kimmel had her brother on his show his first reply was
    why do your parents hate you so much

    June 13, 2010 at 20:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Linda

    Her parents could be the craziest sea going creatures ever. That wouldn't make a difference in my eyes. If she was 21 which is still young then I could care less but being 16 we should really be smarter. Look at it like this.... what if they never found her..? Then what would everybody think? Would it still be OK?

    June 13, 2010 at 20:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Steve Armstrong

    Unfortunately, there are far too many people who do not recognize the fact that there are other people in the world with functional belief's and skill sets different from their own. It's nice for once to be able to read about a teen who is NOT listed in the crime report or the obit's. Truly, a future leader; way to go Abby!

    June 13, 2010 at 20:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. John

    Allowing their child to pursue a dream is just fine with me, no matter the dangers. In a year, she can serve and die for her country. We have no problem putting our children in war zones. There won't be any "what ifs" in her life, and she will be much happier as a result. Not everyone wants to thrive in the relative safety of an office cubicle.

    June 13, 2010 at 20:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Niki

    Way to go Abby! I think it is wonderful and amazing her parents allowed her to do such a trip! I think all of you nay-sayers are basing your opinions on how immature you must have been at 16. If my daughter were to want to do something such as this I will completely support her, not because I don't love her with all my heart, but because I believe fostering a child's independence is one of the most important things a parent can do for their kids. Abby was apparently very well prepared mentally and physically for this challenge. My hat is off to Abby and her family, she has my respect and I feel for her not being able to complete her journey. And for all of you attacking her family for the decision, I'm sure it was one of the hardest they ever made, and very well thought out.

    June 13, 2010 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. xx4me

    There's a reason the WSSRC, nor any of the other internationally recognized or accredited sailing record keepers, track "the world's youngest circumnavigator" anymore.

    June 13, 2010 at 21:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. James

    lol Timothy, your comment has got to be really poorly thought out.

    She's better than pampered and protected kids because of this? HER PARENTS ARE RICH. Get that through your head. The odds are that she's been pampered, and it was her idea to do this anyway. The fact that they let her take a boat, and months worth of equipment and food and water shows that she's been pampered. I suggest you shut your mouth before insulting kids and defending this girl, when she's the exact same type of kid as your insulting.

    June 13, 2010 at 21:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Roy M Savary

    Parents will put their kids through anything, as long as mom and dad can get their fifteen minutes of fame. Completely irresponsible and VERY Californian.

    June 13, 2010 at 21:47 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.