Vancouver dad warned for letting kids take public bus alone
One parent says a caseworker ruled his four kids could not take the public bus to school alone
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A Vancouver parent is planning to launch a legal challenge after he says a Ministry of Children and Family Development staff person told him his four oldest children cannot take the public bus alone to school.
On his blog, 5 Kids 1 Condo, Adrian Crook says he has been teaching his four oldest kids, aged seven, eight, nine, and eleven, to ride the bus by themselves to their elementary school, 45 minutes away, for the past two years. But after someone tipped the Ministry of Children and Family Development off about the practise last spring, Crook says they launched a two-month long investigation.
“I think any parent will tell you, we try to be the best parent you can be,” he told Metro.
“To get a call from the Ministry, you just think, I must be the worst parent.”
He says the caseworker ruled that the children could not be left unsupervised until next year, when the eldest could be deemed responsible for his siblings.
Crook disagreed and started a GoFundMe to help with his planned legal challenge.
“Our family’s freedom of mobility has been dramatically restricted for little reason beyond the complaint of an anonymous person,” he wrote on his blog.
“The freedoms my kids enjoyed for years were removed. Even simple trips like several kids crossing the street to the corner store, or walking to school on their own when they’re at their mom’s place were ruled out.”
Crook, who does not own a car and is a self-described advocate for public transit, says he taught his children how to ride the bus by themselves because it was safer than him driving them to school.
Bus trips are 24 times safer than car trips, according to UBC research.
Crook’s kids will be able to take the bus by themselves next year when his eldest turns 12, but he wants to change people’s perspective on what he calls “helicopter parenting.”
“This has been a creeping thing that has happened over the last couple of decades – this helicopter parenting. And now, it’s being enforced by the state. There has to be some degree of pushback.”
He says a lawyer has already reached out to him to help with the legal challenge after he published his blog post.
Crook acknowledges the Ministry was in a tough spot once someone complained.
“It became clear that once this issue had been reported to the Ministry, they had no choice but to fall back on whatever tangentially related case law could be found, despite there being no issues with the kids taking the bus for two years,” he wrote.
The Ministry did not confirm the details of Crook’s blog but sent Metro this statement:
“Everyone has a duty to report a situation in which a child may be at risk. In assessing the nature of that risk, social workers exercise their professional judgement within the parameters established by ministry policy and the Child, Family and Community Service Act.”
There is no specific age requirement, provincially or federally, that dictates when a child can be left unsupervised, a ministry spokesperson added.