Rachel Canning Claims Abuse and Is Disgraced by Media, Labeled Rebellious


It may very well be that New Jersey teen Rachel Canning is as spoiled and rebellious as she is being painted by the media. However, it may also turn out that Rachel’s accusations against her parents are true. If this turns out to be the case, what is perhaps most disturbing about Canning’s story is that it displays a serious problem running rampant in the way U.S. journalists depict young women. The media is constantly calling out teenagers as “rebellious” in lieu of taking a closer look at the realities they are living in. In cases where there are claims of abuse, the practice of the media labeling teens as “bratty” or “spoiled” is an absolute disgrace.  This is a dangerous narrative for society to write?

In the case of Rachel Canning and her parents, only a handful of details are known. Here is the way this story has been pieced together by dozens of news sources in the last two days: Rachel is a rebellious and spoiled teenager who is after her parents’ money. She refuses to live by her parents’ rules, which is unfortunate, because it is clear that they only want what is best for her. Her parents are heartbroken and puzzled by how their daughter sees her idealistic home as abusive in any way. Rachel bullies her sister, dates an unsuitable boy, and has spitefully decided to take her parents to court so they continue to provide for her even though she refuses to live by their reasonable rules. Given all of that, it’s no wonder that the media claims that the young girl is spoiled and has labeled her as just another troubled teenager who has brought disgrace upon her family. But what about the details that have been casually brushed under the rug?

Anyone that has been reading up on the case knows that the angle does not change much from site to site.  The story outlined above is the general depiction of Canning’s story. But what is not being said? Since the story about Canning first broke, there have been serious allegations, but those have been erroneously avoided by the media in favor of reinforcing the belief that teenagers are just irresponsible little people who constantly cause trouble. Though Canning has the help of legal counsel in this case, she has been verbally slaughtered by the media, and if the allegations against her parents are true, then a huge injustice has been done.

Numerous sources covering this story seem like they are presenting cut-and-dried facts, and according to many, this is just another case of an entitled teen. But there are available details that have been glossed over by several major news outlets. Here is another construct of the same story using only the details provided across the board from multiple sources: Rachel Canning is a hardworking teenager on the brink of adulthood. She has continually proven herself to be a good citizen in school by maintaining excellent grades and participating in extra-curricular activities. Unfortunately, Canning has shown some signs of distress within her home life. A teacher witnessed Canning’s mother making a harmful remark toward her daughter, and after hearing some recent allegations of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, Canning’s school has advised that the teen not return home. Canning is concerned about spending time with her father as he has behaved inappropriately towards her in a way that has made her uncomfortable and might be considered sexual.  Both parents deny any wrongdoing, claiming that their child is rebellious and a liar. Canning is just trying to get through high school so she can go to college.  The teen has already been accepted to several schools and received at least one solid scholarship.

It may be that the media made the right decision in their initial portrayal, and that Rachel Canning is just a bratty teen trying to collect money from her parents. But what if the media is wrong?  Canning’s allegations are serious, and should therefore be taken seriously. If the media is wrong this time, it means that not only has Canning been victimized by her parents, but her reputation has been unjustly fractured in a very public way. Regardless of the truth, this case easily falls into the very prominent category of victim-blaming, a disgraceful and common practice. Women are constantly being labeled as liars, and the majority of sources covering Canning’s story is yet another example. While the job of the media is to report the news, and sometimes that comes with opinions and different angles, it should always be considered that the subjects of these stories are human beings with lives and feelings. Unfortunately for women who are portrayed by news sources, the tendency is to take the angle of blame. If Rachel Canning is an abuse victim as she claims, and not a rebellious teen, the girl ought to receive dozens of apologies from news outlets worldwide.

Opinion by Bonnie Sludikoff


Daily Mail
Yahoo! News

24 Responses to "Rachel Canning Claims Abuse and Is Disgraced by Media, Labeled Rebellious"

  1. Antonia   March 5, 2014 at 12:42 am

    Rachel Canning is a spoiled brat! John Inglesino who is footing the legal costs of her court case against her parents is acting very suspiciously. Why is he getting involved in this family drama? I think his “relationship” with Rachel should be investigated.

  2. Bonnie Sludikoff   March 4, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    Valid point raised Sean– the legal aspects of demanding payment for college is complicated and while it’s important I feel that if there is abuse that needs to take precedence. The fact that the alleged abuse has been treated as a secondary concern is frankly gross and disappointing though not surprising– it is not the norm for false accusations to made though the media depicts that often

    • aggiebrandi   March 5, 2014 at 7:12 am

      The problem I have with this theory is that her actions (filing to become “non-emancipated”, asking for continued support from her parents, going after the money) is not the typical route for a victim of sexual abuse. Why did she go for only money? If she is truly a victim of her father’s abuse, why not go to the police and file charges alleging that he abused her? This circular route forces the logic that this is just a scare tactic on the part of Rachel and her lawyers to get her parents to acquiesce to a child’s tantrum. I don’t buy it. Obviously the media doesn’t either.

      • Jessica   March 5, 2014 at 2:54 pm

        So based on that logic, it didn’t happen because she didn’t handle it the way you think an abused individual should? The author is pointing out what you keep doing, you keep making claims on something you have no idea about (Are you a victim of sexual abuse from your father?). You are also saying that if an abused girl doesn’t come forward the way YOU (and the media) think is right, she is lying. If the girl is proved to have been abused does that mean you will ALLOW this route ? Barf.

  3. Pamela Smartt   March 4, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    They are bratty, spoiled and disrespectful. We can’t have enough jail to put these thugs in.

  4. bbbeck   March 4, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    Is Rachel adopted? This is a pattern common with adopted children who grow up and begin to speak their minds about who and where they come from, only to be labeled by the adoptive parents as liars and incapable of making decisions.

    I see that she goes to a Catholic high school. Again, legalism at it’s highest. With rules at school, rules at home, rules at church, rules from the State, it will be any wonder that she can remain sane.

    In the movie “Absence of Malice”, this same scenario was depicted, leading to a suicide by the victim of “news” people who just had to print a story that the victim had kindly requested not to have it printed. Of course, in the movies, the newspaper gets reprimanded by the District Attorney for releasing the story, but who brings the victim back to life?

    If she was an orphan, then adopted, it’s time for her to emancipate, start life over, and get busy living. I’m an orphan and I lost my college money to rules I didn’t want to do, and I got a lot of really poor advice from my adoptive strangers and the church people. But I still did alright the way I saw it.

    • Brett MacDonald   March 4, 2014 at 11:59 pm

      HAHAHA Rules? Yeah she’s a teen. She needs rules. She rebelled. The fact that she acted like a brat is pretty evident of the fact she needs rules. She was not adopted. Read through her list of accusation. They are beyond believable. Plenty of evidence against her.

  5. Peter   March 4, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    Its unfortunate that a family dispute has become so public like this. The real damage hasn’t been done yet, the repercussions could be far reaching in this girls future and could become a stigma in her life. She is still a child, and both her and her parents have mishandled the situation to the point where the damage may be irreversible soon.

    • Antonia   March 5, 2014 at 12:50 am

      Peter, she is NOT a child anymore! Rachel Caning is a young woman NOT a child. There are thousands of 18 years old young men and women in our armed forces risking their lives every single day. Rachel Canning is a spoiled, disloyal, backstabbing and perfidious creature!

  6. Scott   March 4, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Trust (the parents), but verify. That’s my take. Until there is evidence to the contrary… the parents get the benefit of the doubt. Why? Because most of us adults remember how we were at that age. We look at the photos of this gal doing fun things with her parents (even somewhat recently) and we read that they have paid for her private school education. They’ve been regularly involved with her life. They’ve supported her in athletics and academics and have given no indication that they are somehow bad parents. In the other corner… a high school kid who seems to be having some judgement issues. Not just with her parents, but with boyfriends and alcohol as well. She’s at the age of a spoiled bratty kid. Doesn’t make her evil. It makes her 17 or 18, right? No, not every one that age is spoiled and bratty, but we all know some who are (or were). We have friends who were. We know kids of our friends who are. We have our own kids who are. Whatever. It’s part of growing up for some folks. But she seems to have drawn some lines in the sand that are not hers to draw. Gotta own it. Not right to ‘demand’ things of your parents. It’s just not right.

    As for her accusations of abuse? Way to easy. Throw around a few casual comments about the father making her feel ‘uncomfortable” or something and it will get easy traction. Every father cringes at the thought of their daughter or son playing that card. Could it be legit? Possibly. Can’t ignore it. That’s why I say “trust, but VERIFY”. Until there is more than just her accusations, they get the benefit of the doubt and it seems many others would agree.

    Waiting for her to drop the more unforgivable sin… that they are “evangelicals”, pushing their dogma on her. Now, if she has taken THAT tack, she’d be getting all kinds of support. But let’s not give her any ideas.

    Trust, but verify. Unfortunately, some of the accusations will be difficult to recover from. I really do hope they make amends. Life is hard. Family is important.

  7. Sean F. O'Brien   March 4, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Bonnie, she is legally an adult and is suing her parents in order to force them to fund an education that most in this country will never have, and if they do, will have to pay for through student loans or working. If all of the allegations that you present which put her in a better light are true, they still don’t translate to imposing a legal obligation upon her parents to pay for her tuition.

  8. justine   March 4, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    not you Toni, sorry, this article.

  9. Justine   March 4, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    well said

  10. Toni   March 4, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Perception is reality. If even CPS labels her as spoiled, guess what? She is. No apologies will ever be forthcoming.


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