Abby Sunderland’s parents have received a ton of criticism for allowing their sixteen year old to attempt to sail solo on a mission around the world. The young girl was lost for 20 hours with no contact after encountering 60 ft waves and could have easily died. Luckily, she was found and rescued.
It’s hard to make a decision of whether or not to allow your child to follow their dream and try to achieve goals in an area they are clearly talented in. Her parents had earlier claimed that they allowed her to take on the dangerous quest because she had proven capable several times and they wanted to allow her the chance to challenge herself. In my book, it’s questionable but I can understand the point-you don’t want to stunt your child or hold them back. Do you want them pushing themselves towards goals or hanging out at the mall smoking and hitting on the opposite sex?
Yet, in the Sunderland’s case, there seems to be more sinister reasons at work than supporting their child’s ambitions. Abby’s father is broke and allowed his daughter to sail in order to get a reality show. The title? “Adventures in Sunderland.”
Abby’s father Laurence told the NY Post that the reality program would follow his family of “daredevil kids,” thus ensuring there would have been more death-defying tasks and situations for the seven young Sunderlands. Crews began filming four months ago.
“The show might be about family, it might be about Abigail’s trip. It’s something that was shopped around,” he said. “We thought it might be a good idea if it was encouraging to kids to get out there and do things.”
Get out there and do things or endanger their life for the sake of fame and some cash? If the later (which sorry, is always the case when reality TV is involved), Laurence is not only exploiting his children but committing a serious act of child endangerment. The show may as well be called “Watch and See If My Kid Dies Doing This Stupid Thing I should Not Have Allowed Them To Do.”
As of now, no one has taken the bait and purchased the show, most likely because of the backlash her journey has caused. However, it is being promoted by Magnetic Entertainment of Studio City, Calif. on their web site as the documentary “Adventures in Sunderland” and “Abby’s Journey.”
Abby’s father insists that he did not do it just for money and recognition, though all evidence points to the contrary. “I love my daughter dearly,” he said. “I love the passion of sailing dearly, and this was about Abigail following her dream. She followed the criteria that I had set out, and met all the requirements to embark on this trip.”
What’s sad is that this seems to be an epidemic amongst parents. Look at all the YouTube videos of children their parents put online hoping to score an Internet sensation or the Balloon Boy hoax where Richard Heen lied and said his son was trapped in some flying tin foil contraption in a stunt that wasted the time and money of authorities including the National Guard. How to stop parents from doing this is anyone’s guess and an unfortunate byproduct of a society we all have created from tuning in to these shows and watching these videos online. Let’s just hope that no one gets killed in the process in order for parents to stop.