Adrian Crook took his kids to their first day of school on Tuesday by bus. If he had his way, they would be taking public transit without him.
Crook said his eldest four children, ranging in age from seven to 11, started riding the bus from their home in downtown Vancouver to their school in North Vancouver last spring and have not experienced any problems.
He said he went to great lengths to teach his kids how to take public transit, easing them into their school commute, which involves taking two buses.
“Over the course of two years, we went from one year doing both bus rides with me, to for six months doing just the latter bus ride on their own, to then for just a few months doing the entire trip on their own,” he said.
The kids’ trips ended when the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) got involved after receiving a complaint.
“I’m more concerned about the precedent for other parents,” Crook said. “Before my kids used to cross the street to go to 7-Eleven, some of them. Even that’s not allowed anymore.”
WATCH: Andrea Vance from West Coast Families weighs in on the debate of leaving kids at home.
Three provinces have laws around the age when a child can be left unattended. In Manitoba and New Brunswick, a child cannot be left alone until the age of 12.
Ontario’s Child, Youth and Family Services Act states “no person having charge of a child younger than 16 shall leave the child without making provision for the child’s supervision and care that is reasonable in the circumstances.”
B.C. has no legal minimum age.
A letter from a social worker told Crook that “until the children are 10 years old they cannot be unsupervised in the community, at home, or on transit.”
The letter also said, “until a child is 12 years old, responsible, and ideally has taken a babysitter’s course they cannot be responsible for younger children when there is no adult present.”
Crook believes attitudes around leaving children on their own have changed drastically over the years due to irrational concerns about safety.
“Crime is less than when we grew up so we should be trusting that we live in a safe world,” he said. “But we don’t base our decisions on data, often we base it on a visceral fear.”
Crook says he will be riding the bus with his kids until his eldest child turns 12 next summer.
– With files from Grace Ke
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