Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rachel Canning

I usually don't jump into these big name cases like this. In those rare instances where teenagers make headlines, like Trayvon Martin or Malala Yousafazi, I stay out of it. What can I say that hasn't already been said? But Rachel Canning's case caught my attention. For those of you who haven't been following her story, Canning is  a high school senior (and honor student and cheerleader and lacrosse player) at a New Jersey Catholic private school. She moved out of the house last October and she's now living with a friend across town. According to her parents, she did this of her own free will, 'cause she's just rebellious and obstinate like that. According to Channing, she was fleeing abuse. Now she's suing her parents for school tuition, living expenses, transportation, legal fees, and, wait for it, college funds.
Private school fees? Sure, her parents enrolled her. Living and transportation expenses? Maybe. You could justify that. College? I don't see why or how they should end up paying. Plenty of parents cut off their children financially. It's not at all unusual for a college student to go into debt. I doubt she'll win. And even if she does the Internet trolls will rip her to shreds.
If you want an in depth analysis of the legal issues, go elsewhere. What bothers me is the way media has handled this case. Most articles I've seen-not to mention the comments at the bottom-call her a brat and say that as a legal adult she's not entitled to any financial support. But when they want to mock the situation, it's presented like this:

If you want to hold her responsible, she's an eighteen year old adult. If you want to call her out for being spoiled, she's an eighteen year old child. It can't be both ways.
Ms. Canning, if you are truly fleeing abuse, then I salute you. When the smoke clears you'll inspire other abuse victims to take a stand. And if you're not? If you're just like that woman who sued Nutella for not being healthy (and won three million dollars), then none of this will help.
This is a personal case. That's why it's so hard to come to a simple conclusion. Canning's parents claim that of course they love their daughter, of course they only want what's best for her, and of course it's just an oversight that they let their family get international attention instead of resolving it quickly and quietly. Oopsie.
I can understand if Sean and Elizabeth Canning don't want to pay the exorbitant legal fees and all the other costs. But if Canning truly ran away on her own, if she's a partyer who isn't going anywhere in life, it strikes me odd that her parents don't want to finance her high school education.
Let's leave the Canning family to work out their personal problems. Let's go back to reading about the Ukraine and Syria and whatever Obama's up to at the moment. And while we're at it, let's try to find a less two faced way to depict young people.

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