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Purple Crocodile

August 26, 2009

You’d have to be a complete recluse to have missed this. The teenager Laura Dekker has been hitting the Dutch news headlines steadily for about a good week now.

This is the story of a 13 year old girl, whose passion is sailing and whose dream it is to follow in the footsteps of other teenagers like the American Zac Sunderland (17 years old) and the Brit Mike Perham (also 17 years old, only 3 months younger).

As some of you might know, these two have been sailing solo around the world for the past year. Sunderland has set a disputed sailing record and Perham is about to break it. Probably this thursday.

Laura Dekker is challenging both records, by wanting to be the first 13 year old solo circumnavigator. Her only problem, the Dutch Child Care System won’t have any of it. According to an online poll held by my newspaper, de Volkskrant, at the time of writing and publishing, the vote’s a close 52-48% in favour of the teenager.

Please indulge me. Child Care is an institution we’ve set up to seek out child abuse and protect children from those who’d try to harm them.

Instead Child Care has proven to be nothing else but a bureaucratic system; and very ineffective these past years. Leading to the death of the toddler Savannah in 2005. An article published in October 2008, Kinderbescherming blijft falen (Roughly translated: The Child Care System repeatedly still fails) confirms that 3 years on, the institute hasn’t managed to clean up its act.

Another article dated November 2003, Boze vaders dwingen gesprek met ministerie af (Translated: Angry fathers demand a meeting with the ministry), states that in divorces Child Care regularly disregards the child’s right as stipulated by the United Nations.

I might be wrong, but I’m suspecting that Laura Dekker has become a media statement. It reeks of someone believing that ‘any (diverting) publicity is good publicity’. And seeing the blunders committed before and the scrutiny Child Care is under, they’d like now to also present themselves as an active body.

Secondly, it reeks of pure and plain rigid bureaucracy. I’m all for policies and procedures; but not when it interferes with common sense.

Here’s a Dutch ad dated a few years back. It shows a mother and her daughter coming to report the girl’s purple crocodile, lost the day before. The viewer can clearly see the inflated toy propped against the wall.

Yet the indifferent clerk at the Lost & Found makes the mother fill out a declaration form — completely. Then tells her to hand it in the next day — at another department.

The ad is a perfect example of people who are not able to think outside the box. Purple crocodiles, missing any form of empathy and lacking all ability to practice intelligence, experience and insight. Therefore they hide behind policies and procedures, making life unnecessary difficult for others. And disguising the fact that they are (just) paper pushers.

Laura Dekker’s story is just as ridiculous as this ad. The court will be ruling her case this coming Friday, August 28. I’ll be rooting for her. The girl deserves a break.

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