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Dutch Court: Girl, 14, Can Sail Around World Solo

Here is a case to discuss: a Dutch court just ruled that a 14-year-old girl can sail the world solo as long as her parents agree to it, according to AFP.

Child care authorities asked the court last week to extend (14-year-old Laura) Dekker's supervision by 12 months to August 2011 in a bid to stop her departure, citing fears for her social and emotional wellbeing.

Dekker, who has the backing of her parents, needs to complete the two-year trip before she turns 17 on September 20, 2012, to set the new record.

The girl's lawyer Peter de Lange said he had contacted her by phone and she was "extremely happy". Dekker, who was not present for the judgement, hopes to set sail within the next two weeks, according to her blog.

Judge Kuypers said the verdict "puts the responsibility for the child back where it belongs: with the parents."

The Child Protection Council of Utrecht secured an intervention order placing Dekker under their supervision until July 1, when the school year ended. In December, Dekker breached the court order by running away to the Dutch Caribbean island territory of Sint Maarten. Police escorted her back home and her supervision was extended to August 1. Here is more on the case:

The Child Protection Council of Utrecht, in the central Netherlands, insisted at a hearing last week that Dekker was too young to decide for herself.

"A 14-year-old child cannot appreciate the risks of a solo trip of this nature," council spokesman Richard Bakker told AFP ahead of Tuesday's ruling.

I hate to sound like a party pooper, but is anyone else irked by how many public resources have been -- and are -- devoted to these teen boat trips? I know boating/yachting is a world I do not understand, but I can't stop thinking about these kids' safety along with the cost to the public in terms of the courts, child advocates, rescue missions, etc.. I think the parents should shoulder the costs.

What do you all think? Do you agree with the Dutch court decision?


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