Bleary-Eyed Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/21/2019: The Child Endangerment Follies

Abby Sunderland, now and then.

Not awake, don’t expect to be awake…

…any time soon.

1. Where have I been? Yesterday’s 16 hour marathon for the D.C. bar, followed by another three hours bright and early this morning, pretty much have me operating with one-half of my brain tied behind my back while functioning like a lesser Kardashian with a closed head injury. That I got through it all relatively intact is all due to the Ethical Arts Players, my team of brilliant actors who frequently enhance ProEthics programs—in this case, Esther Covington, David Elias and Chris Davenport, who played 10 comic characters in the ethics training video we were shooting, and Paul Morella, who has been portraying Clarence Darrow with me for almost two decades. It was long day and an exhausting day, but thanks to them, a very proud day for ProEthics.

2. Terrific open forum, everyone, and once again, thanks.

3. On child exploitation...Since you asked about my view of children setting “youngest” records doing dangerous things: the opening thread on the forum was sparked Keith Walkers comment,

Yesterday on the Today Show there was a feature on a 10-year-old who just became the youngest person to ever successfully climb El Capitan. I immediately thought of Jack and this blog, wondering what he would think of the parents’ decision to let this happen, since someone who is 10 is clearly too young to understand the potentially deadly ramifications of failure. Several friends agreed with my leanings toward “what on Earth were the parents thinking??”, but some made some good points the other way as well. (The parents were well-trained climbers, were with her the entire climb, clearly professionals, etc. – the girl was surrounded with experience, if that makes a difference in your opinion.)

As several commenters knew or guessed, my position on this kind of thing is fixed, and I have expressed it many times. Like… Continue reading

When An Ethical Parent Must Veto a Child’s Dream

It looked grim for a while yesterday, when the media was reporting that the sailboat carryingAbby Sunderland, the 16-year old seeking to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe solo by sea, had been lost. Now it looks like she may be safe after all, as a rescue of her crippled craft is underway in the Indian Ocean.  That a tragedy may have been averted, however, doesn’t mitigate that unethical abdication of responsible parenting and trust by Abby’s parents that set the stage for a calamity.

Had the ill-conceived adventure ended fatally, it is certain that we would have heard her heart-broken parents eulogize their daughter as intrepid,  courageous and mature beyond her appearance, who lived a full life in her sixteen years, and perished “living her dream.”  All true, but those aren’t the facts that matter.  What matters is that she is a dependent, trusting, sixteen-year old child who desperately needed her older and supposedly wiser parents to say “No. Being the youngest woman to sail around the world is good, living long enough to go to college, have a family, have a career and experience the joys of life over many decades is better. Sorry. It’s too dangerous. When you understand a little bit more about life, you may be capable of deciding when to risk it.”

They failed her, and the fact that she isn’t dead as a result is only luck. Continue reading