How young is too young to ride public transit?
That’s the question, after a Vancouver man says the Ministry of Children and Family Development opened an investigation into his parenting because he lets his four children take the bus to school alone.
Single father Adrian Crook, a blogger who lives in downtown Vancouver, said he’s been teaching his four children, aged 7, 8, 9 and 11, to take the bus during the last two years.
As the family doesn’t own a car, the kids have been taking unsupervised trips since last spring. Their bus ride to school is roughly 45 minutes, and involves no transfers to other buses.
“Back in 2015, I asked our regional transit operator, TransLink, what the minimum age is for kids to ride the bus alone. They informed me there wasn’t one: It was up to the parent,” Crook wrote in a blog post.
But a complaint received by MCFD has led to the province determining the kids can’t ride the bus on their own because it puts them at risk.
The ministry, based on legislated minimum ages at which kids can be left home alone in other provinces, determined that children under 10 years old could not be unsupervised in or outside the home, for any amount of time, Crook said, including walking distances alone like to and from school.
Crook now rides the bus with the children until his oldest turns 12 next summer.
The dad is now accusing the B.C. government of overstepping – and reinforcing the “damaging trend of helicopter parenting” – that he says robs children of agency, independence and responsibility.
“There’s no weight given to the long game of good parenting – allowing kids to earn independence at a younger age, so they turn into better humans later in life,” he wrote.
He said he is now pursuing legal measures to change laws around the use of public transit by children.