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Did Abby Sunderland's Parents Endanger Her Life For A TV Deal?

By Mara Siegler |

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.


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About Mara Siegler


Mara Siegler

Mara Siegler can currently be found on Babble's Famecrawler blog. Read her! She lives in Brooklyn, NY and freelances on all your favorite gossip and indie rock.

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0 thoughts on “Did Abby Sunderland's Parents Endanger Her Life For A TV Deal?

  1. jimcole says:

    What a creepy family. Perhaps Mis-adventures in Sunderlund is more appropriate.

  2. joe says:

    This is nuts…. These parents should be charged.

  3. tin todd says:

    Looking a funding for the next youngest round the world attempt , I have researched and found that you can put brain implants in an infant and control by remote . We are looking for a candidate to launch the next attempt – I have checked into robots to change diapers and provide nutrition – What do you think ? I am working hard on producing the next record holder . It would be great for the pampers and infamil powder formula for sponsors. If all went well the record would be for a 3 month old to hold the world record . Then the only way to beat would be a faster boat.

  4. pghgal says:

    I am VERY UPSET that the family is in need of money to pay for their daughter’s recuse and to save the precious daughter’s boat. HELLO…
    Abby is going to be making money off of this by being on every talk show and maybe a movie. The Sutterland live in a richy area of the world. THEY SHOULD PAY I need money to help my handicap brother. His estate that his father left him was stolen by another family member. Come you can’t expect the world to pay for stupidity.

  5. mary says:

    if any of this family’s antics becomes reality show, we all need to boycott – only way to really send message to irresponsible parents. and…why do these people have so many children? 8th one on the way. that is also highly irresponsible. landfills need a break from all those diapers. have they heard of Planned Parenthood? As a culture, we have to stop being self indulgent & think of our society & world.

  6. Janet says:

    PLEASE, PLEASE hire me to write an unbiased article!!! Where do you people get off on writing this claptrap? Now we’re into telling couples how many children they should have? Please move to China – the people we boycott because of their crimes against humanity (including their policies on how many children they can have).
    I’m far more concerned about bored teens that have access to guns and drugs. Abby challenged the status quo, and you are embarrassed because you are a lilly-livered sissy with no sense of adventure yourself and you are jealous! Teens today (no, not all, but many) are despondent and they act out in so many negative ways. It is the public education system that ensures they become unthinking automatons because then they are easier to control, by keeping them in jail-like conditions and letting them only seek the company of their peers. Yikes! We need more families like the Sunderland family to help us recapture the spirit of adventure. I admire teens that work toward a goal. I admire families that take risk together. Please read Abby’s blog about the amount of misinformation that is presented as “journalism” in this poorly written article!
    This teen will someday change the world (she already has as she’s opened up so much discussion regarding parent’s rights). She is thinking of our society and world. She’s been out there and in it. I’d rather have her input on world policy than some teen who played Wii for his entire life! (Now THAT’S self indulgent!) These teens will someday rule our country – how does keeping them under lock and key help their perspective at all?
    Please watch the DVD – The War on Kids. Read anything by John Taylor Gatto – he explains why you feel the way you do and maybe he can change your mind. For heaven’s sake, read Abby’s blog.

  7. Rosana says:

    I have two kids and will not allow them to go on a trip like that, just because I know they are not prepared to do so. Besides, they are only 2yrs old and 5months old :) However, I do not see the horrible sin the parents commited here. The girl was prepared to do the trip, regardless of her age, but stuff happens and things not always happen they way we intend them to.
    Not long ago, I watched a show on TV where a family told the story about pursuing their dream sail trip. After an accident at sea, their trip turned bad when the father almost lost his life. This family had four kids, ages 5 to 16, and both parents had enough sailing experience to do it.
    I think that Abby just had bad luck but what will be said if she would have done the trip without any problem whatsoever. I think many parents are just over reacting.

  8. Rosana says:

    BTW, that family wrote a book about their experience. It is called “Black Wave”

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