That’s the Dutch fourteen year-old who’s been blocked by a Netherlands court from attempting to sail around the world solo – she’d been aiming to set a new world record for the youngest sailor ever to manage the feat. After she managed to run away to the Caribbean last week, defying a court order, she’s facing not just occasional monitoring by childcare authorities – they’re actually talking about taking her into protective custody.
Ever since I heard of Dekker a few months back – when her attempt was first postponed, while she was still just thirteen – I’ve been trying to sort out my feelings on the case. On the surface, the whole thing seems absurd, a clear over-reach on the part of Dutch authorities: After all, she’s an experienced sailor, and her primary guardian, her father, is entirely behind the effort. (Her mother is against it.)
But then questions start to pop up. For instance: Is it really that far beyond standard levels of government “interference” in child-rearing?