Adrian Crook photo
Adrian Crook’s story of being investigated by the Ministry of Children and Family Development for allowing his four kids aged 7 to 11 to travel independently together on the bus has gained traction globally, even appearing on the BBC Newswire. Naomi Buck of the Globe and Mail asks the obvious question, which I believe is also the tipping point-how did we ever get to the point that someone would object to kids using a city bus to get to school? If we are looking at making transit good for everyone, doesn’t it mean that includes kids too? How did we ever get to a place where it was felt that there was some danger in kids using buses? How did public transit ever get the “not safe for children” label?
Mr. Crook who is the Dad behind the “5 kids 1 condo” blog has been told by the Province that “children under the age of 10 cannot be unsupervised “in the community, at home, or on transit” and a child under 12 cannot be responsible for younger kids without an adult present.” Um. Isn’t that an adult driving the bus? While we talk about families that drive their kids a few blocks to school because of unnamed dangers, here’s an individual that practiced riding on the bus with his children to build up their independence and sense of autonomy. And it’s not only the children’s freedom to use the bus that is at stake-the ruling precludes the logic and good citizenlike behaviour of every other transit user on the bus. The ruling makes the bus and its users appear as an unfriendly place inhabited by unsavory adults.
As Ms. Buck observes “Defining when a child is safe to be left unattended is an arbitrary exercise, dependent entirely on the child, the parent, the circumstance. Only three provinces have set a legal minimum age – in Manitoba and New Brunswick it is 12, in Ontario, 16 – while the Canada Safety Council states that children under 10 should never be left alone at home.” But every parent knows that kids can demonstrate the maturity at an early age to accomplish independent tasks once those tasks are practiced. Taking a city bus to school for instance.
Similar issues about children’s independence and age are happening in Australia. Parents in a town in Queensland have been warned for allowing children under twelve years of age to walk or ride to school without “proper” supervision. You can get up to three years in jail for that. Here’s the funny part-that supervision extends to the bus stop where the child picks up transit to go to school. Apparently once you are on a transit bus, the supervision is okay.
Here’s a YouTube video from Mr. Crook’s blog of his kids taking transit to and from school.